How to Write a White Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide
If you’re looking to embrace content marketing and use it to its fullest potential, you’ll need to start creating white papers. These in-depth forms of content are powerful and can help turn prospects into customers.
They’re not as straightforward as blog posts though. If you want to know how to write a white paper, you might feel overwhelmed at the idea. Much longer than other forms of content marketing, you can’t simply knock one out in an hour or two.
To make your task as easy as possible, we’ve created this step-by-step guide to writing a white paper. By the end, you’ll have a solid plan for your next step and soon you’ll have a white paper than shines.
Read on to discover how to write a white paper and gain a skill that pays off.
What Is a White Paper?
Before you get started planning your white paper, it might be helpful to understand what it is in the first place. While they look like eBooks, they differ in tone and content.
An eBook is often written a lot like a blog post. It’s conversational and may cover a wide subject. A white paper, on the other hand, is far more formal and specific.
White papers are expertise focused to show and solve a particular problem. They were traditionally government reports that dissected and explained policy. Now popular in the business world, your white paper will contain high-quality research, serious analysis, and formal, business language.
A white paper is a report that persuades the reader into a particular action. Usually to buy your product or service. Their goal isn’t direct sales though and, instead, the primary aim is to educate.
How to Write a White Paper That Engages Your Reader
Writing a white paper isn’t an easy task and can take weeks or even months to finish. Don’t let this put you off though. A well-written and researched white paper is worth its weight in gold to your business, giving you authority and increasing your brand visibility.
1. Plan the White Paper
As an in-depth report, your white paper needs to be presented and formatted in a formal, professional manner. The title page should be engaging but not decorative and you’ll need a contents page.
Your subject needs to be specific and focused. The subject should stem from research as it will be presenting your findings to solve a particular issue your audience faces.
This could be anything from improved hand-washing techniques in hospitals to using emerging tech in the hotel industry. Your white paper subject will be connected to your business offering and aimed at a specific audience.
2. Outline Your White Paper
A typical white paper can be anything from 10-50 pages long, depending on the complexity of your subject and the research mentioned. Your second step is to outline your entire white paper.
Your fundamental sections will be:
- Executive summary
- A section teaching the audience about the problem
- A section outlining the research findings and solutions
- How the solutions have been implemented in real life using a case study
Within these sections, you can further break down your white paper by mapping out sub-headings that will organize the structure. This helps to keep your points clear when writing and for the audience when reading.
3. Write in a Formal Tone
White papers are written from an authoritative, expert viewpoint. While blog posts can benefit from an informal, conversational tone, a white paper must remain formal and academic, yet easy to read.
As your goal is to demonstrate your expertise, the white paper should be well-written and well-edited. Typos and grammatical errors give an unprofessional impression and your hard work could be wasted.
4. Demonstrate Research Clearly
Ensure each point is backed up by sound research. Include reference numbers so your readers can find the research easily if they need to and list your sources at the end or in footnotes.
Always outline how the research findings affect your reader and lead them to your solution. Statistics are easy to read when put in graphs and charts. This creates a visual break for your reader and helps make a bigger impact.
5. Write a Persuasive Conclusion
During the solutions-based section of your white paper, you’ll be persuading the reader that the solution you address will be the answer to their problem. By the time they reach your conclusion, they should already be nodding their heads.
Your conclusion is the final push to show them that the results of your report will benefit them. While you won’t be selling your product or service within the main body of the white paper, the evidence you show will lead them to your business naturally.
Your conclusion is a strong summary of your findings and the benefits others will get by implementing the solution outlined.
Proofreading just once is never enough. After you’ve spent a lot of time on your white paper, it can be difficult to spot small errors. Pass it over to a colleague to go through and remember to check your references are correct.
Proofreading several times and with different pairs of eyes is the best way to ensure your white paper is error-free and ready to go.
Take Advantage of White Papers to Boost Your Content Marketing Results
White papers go above and beyond blogs when demonstrating serious expertise in your subject. They’re aimed at customers who need a high level of understanding and research to persuade them towards a solution you can provide.
Now you know how to write a white paper, you’ll be able to put these steps into practice. While white papers not quick to produce, they are powerful forms of content marketing that increase your authority and reputation in your industry. They aim to educate the reader through in-depth analysis and must solve a problem.
White papers should be as strong as possible to get results. If you’d prefer to outsource the writing of your white paper, we can help. We provide in-depth, high-quality white papers for businesses that want to make an impact.
Get in touch with us to discuss your white paper needs and we’ll do the hard work for you.