How to create a White paper template: A step-by-step guide

How to create a White paper template: A step-by-step guide

If you are wondering how to write a white paper, take a look at this blog, where we have mentioned the process step-by-step to make it easier for you to achieve this endeavor.

Creating a white paper template is a difficult task, but it can prove to be a fantastic way to represent you as an expert in your field. Writing a white paper is more of an art than a science. If you are writing a white paper for the very first time, here are some tips on how to write a white paper.

  • Have an interesting topic that people are curious to learn about. 
  • Be descriptive and professional at the same time. 
  • Start with a captivating introduction. 
  • Emphasize the value you wish to create from the whitepaper. 
  • Draft a clear outline. 
  • Write first, edit second. 
  • Proofread to catch the mistakes you might have overlooked earlier. 
  • Follow up with how you can help. 

What is white paper? 

Before we get into the details of a great white paper, it is essential to address the more pertinent query of what is a white paper. A white paper is basically a report that is meant to inform readers about a specific complex issue and addresses the philosophy of the issuing body. Now, this answers the primary question of what is a white paper. 

What differentiates an excellent whitepaper from an ordinary one is the art of employing a collection of facts to solve the audiences’ problems rather than an advertising platform. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • A white paper format is utilized to position yourself as an industry expert with valuable insights to assist the readers. It is, therefore, imperative that the paper provides excellent value.

  • Include helpful information and tips in the whitepaper. 

  • Call attention to the value you have created, and the readers may buy from you in the future. 

What should include in the white paper?

Technically speaking, there is no such thing as a minimum requirement for whitepapers. However, there are certain things that an excellent whitepaper must contain:

1. Length

It should not be less than six pages that include illustrations, charts, and references. It can go beyond the 50 pages limit if the topic requires that much detail. However, chances are, it won’t.

2. Structure

The structure of a white paper or the whitepaper design includes a title page, table of contents, short executive summary (optional although can be pretty helpful), introduction, several pages educating the readers about the problem, several pages hypothesizing a solution, several pages providing an example of a company that employed the solution to achieve results, and a conclusion.

3. Density

The white paper needs to be denser than an eBook. Whitepapers are not easier to skim. In fact, readers usually need to read them more than once to get every morsel of information out of it.

4. Format

The whitepaper design is in PDF using portrait orientation (8.5” by 11”)

5. Style

The writing style of a white paper needs to be professional, serious, well-articulated, and well-edited. I suggest hiring a professional graphic designer to design the page layouts, images, fonts, and colors.

How to write a white paper?

Here are some of the tips for writing an excellent white paper.

1. Have an interesting topic that people are curious to learn about

This is the most obvious thing to do. However, finding the right topic that is interesting enough is perhaps the most challenging part. First, you have to ascertain who your target audience is, who are you trying to reach? Then select an issue that they are interested in - it can be a common problem they might have faced or a case study of successful companies in your industry.

2. Be descriptive and professional at the same time

Writing a white paper is not similar to writing a blog. You need to employ a business writing style and be pretty descriptive. You will write a white paper with a minimum of ten pages to make your point understandable.

3. Start with a captivating introduction

You need to catch people right off the bat with your introduction. One way to do this is by writing a captivating introduction. Try and understand their interest, and then inform them what they will accomplish by reading your white paper. This means writing a summary of your white paper and accompanying it with an organized list of topics. Here is an example of a Google white paper.

4. Emphasize the value you wish to create from the whitepaper

Your white paper is not a marketing vehicle for your business - it is an opportunity to create an image of an expert by providing insightful information that will help the readers. In return, they might buy from you at a later date. 

First, though, you need to give them something of value, and you can do that by filling your white paper with useful information and tips. So here’s how NowSourcing takes the Infographic a few steps further.

5. Draft a clear outline 

First of all, you need to develop a clear outline and then write the white paper. Next, make sure that your white paper's idea aligns with your objectives. Then, grab their attention, deliver value, and get them to take further action. Here’s a look at one of Google’s white papers that succeeds in this endeavor. 

6. Write first, edit second

Once you have put together your outline, get your thoughts down on a piece of paper while they are still fresh in your mind. Do not care about the editing part as of now. First, complete the draft, then you can always go back and make everything flow smoothly afterward. You can even hire white paper writers like Composely to take care of the copy for you! Then, start writing without worrying about anything else.

7. Proofread to catch the mistakes you might have overlooked earlier

Look at any good sample white paper - you will almost always see that they have impeccable writing. Then, go back to the draft and see what you can improve to make it read better. Ask for opinions from people because they may be able to catch mistakes that you might have overlooked. Finally, read the draft aloud to avoid run-out sentences or awkward phrases. 

8. Follow up with how you can help

If you are selling a product or service that will assist the readers, ensure you mention it at the end. Never use the body of your white paper to sell your product or service. Instead, always make sure to use a naturally incorporated catch when you summarize the paper. For example, see this summary - B2B buyers are more interested in content that relays information quicker. This summary can do wonders for a content marketing white paper while devising an effective visual content marketing plan.

White papers are great tools that aid in generating credibility for your business. We have generally seen that customers respond better to informative write-ups than blatant ads. The trick is to ensure that your white paper is well-organized and well-thought-out to arouse a natural and genuine interest among readers for your products and services. 

What are the differences between ebooks and whitepapers in marketing

  • Did you know that the term “white paper” originated from the famous British White Paper of 1922, also known as the Churchill White Paper, having dealt with the political conflict in Palestine?

  • They usually were termed white books; however, this document was prepared in a rush, and there was no time to get it properly bound. 

  • So, this is how white papers come into existence.

And as the internet world is producing more and more of both white papers and eBook versions, it is essential to know the difference between the two (eBooks and Marketing white paper) from the marketing perspective. 

Point of Difference eBooks Whitepapers
The role EBooks can be attention-getting pieces, often employed early in the buying cycle. The proverbial “Can we meet for coffee?” pieces.

Readers are either not in the sales funnel yet or are in the early stages, and you want to entice them into putting you on their “dating” lists.

Whitepapers are decision-aiding pieces that can be used later in the buying cycle. The proverbial “Would you marry me?” pieces.

Typically, the white paper readers are already familiar with your company and products/services.

They are already in the sales funnel and have a certain level of predilection for purchasing from you. They need some irrefutable evidence that they have made the right choice.

Reader Type EBooks are written for non-experts at low or no subject level expertise level.

For example, an eBook on how to set up and maintain the Nonin GO2 Home Pulse Oximeter is written for laymen who care for relatives with the need for pulse oximetry monitoring at home.

Their doctors, using white papers, have already made the selection, and now end-users need certain information about the daily use of the unit.

White papers are written for experts having a high level of subject expertise.

For example, a white paper on the newly released Nellcor™ PM1000N pulse oximeter is explicitly written for doctors, nurses, and biomedical engineers, i.e., people with at least an undergraduate degree in medicine and/or technology are already aware of the concept of pulse oximetry.

The Readability Aspect EBooks are easy to read for the right people. By the right people, I mean if you purchase an eBook on 'outfitting my basement as a suite for rental,’ you would already have some intermediary construction experience. White papers are easy to read for the people it is targeted towards.

For example, a nurse with an undergraduate degree can easily read a white paper on a pulse oximeter. She can even look up the technical parts and understand them reasonably well.

However, someone with Ph.D. degrees in philosophy, psychology, and sociology is likely to go mad after reading only half a page because of the lack of subject knowledge.

The Target Market EBooks majorly work in the B2C market and sell to mostly unquantified, unsubstantiated, and often whimsical - personal wants and desires. White papers primarily work in the B2B lead generation campaigns and help make a business decision based on mostly quantifiable business needs and requirements.
Lifespan EBooks are usually relatively evergreen since the covered topics change gradually over a longish period. A marketing white paper is less evergreen as the covered topics change as new models come out. 
Length Longer than white papers - can be 50+ pages long or even 500. Whitepaper marketing is shorter than eBooks - typically 10-15 pages with lots of footnotes and references to credible third-party sources.
Emphasis Emphasis is on aesthetics. Whitepaper marketing has an emphasis on content.

What are differences between case studies and white papers

Several people are still not clear about the difference between case studies and white papers. But as B2B copywriters and marketers, it is essential to know when to use each one.

Point of Difference Case Studies White Papers
Focus One customer’s happy experience with the product. A new solution to an old problem or benefits of some product or service.
Message Here’s a customer who loves our stuff. Here’s a better way to fix the problem.
Length 2 pages 5 to 12 pages
Format Slicker: PDF with color photos Plainer: PDF with a few graphics
Lifespan 1 to 2 years 1 or 2 years, then refresh
Time to create 2 to 6 weeks, depending on approvals 4 to 12 weeks
When to use Later in the sales cycle Earlier in the sales cycle
Analogy Word-of-mouth testimonial Well-researched article

What are differences between blog posts and white papers

Most people know the difference between a blog post and a white paper. For starters, one is shorter, and the other is longer. Another difference is a white paper is a standalone PDF you can easily download, while a blog post is another item on your prevailing blog.

This table summarizes the key differences between the two.

Point of Difference Blog Posts White Papers
Main focus One person’s opinion A new solution to an old problem or benefits of some product or service.
Message Here’s how I see it. Here’s a better way to solve the problem.
Length 500 to 2,000 words 2,500 to 5,000 words
Format Online, often text with one stock photo PDF with good design with a few graphics
Lifespan A few months, then become outdated. 1 or 2 years, then needs to be refreshed.
Time to create 1 to 4 hours 4 to 12 weeks
When to use Any time depends on the content Early in the sales cycle
Analogy Letter to the editor or opinion piece Well-researched article

Various types of white paper templates

Even though some people find white papers boring, marketers are still adamant about creating them. The reason is, they are an excellent resource for your prospects and sales team. They even assist you in building credibility and trust amongst your readers. On top of this, people who go on to download your whitepapers are the ones who go further into your customer buying cycle.

Keeping that perspective in mind, here are two white paper templates for lead generation.

  1. A technical case study

Often it is said that technical case studies like eBooks are pretty different from case studies. But, there are specific case studies that are long enough to be best packaged into white papers.

A case study is essentially a story highlighting a customer’s success by attaining their objective due to their partnership with another party. This success can be conveyed with the help of certain metrics the customer has agreed to be measured upon. Then, depending on the complexity or technicality of the service being received, you can put in a thorough analysis and details that other potential customers will want to see as they continue the buyer’s journey.

Therefore, case-study-based white paper templates are like gold to demonstrate thought leadership on a dense concept using a real-life example of how this concept helped someone else succeed.

  1. A reference guide

A good white paper example would be if you work for a company that sells kitchen cleaning equipment to restaurants and writes a white paper about the maintenance and inspection of commercial kitchens. 

The email marketing whitepapers will contain a comprehensive take on legal requirements for exhaust systems, cooking equipment, and cleanliness documentation needed that could put even the biggest kitchen maintenance enthusiast to sleep if read cover-to-cover. 

It will also be a handy reference for restaurant owners wanting to maintain their kitchens to pass the inspection. Once they are well aware of maintaining cleanliness in their kitchens, they are more likely to purchase expensive equipment from you. In addition, they see you as a valuable, detail-oriented, and credible source. 

Companies often create email marketing whitepapers as a resource for their leads to improve their trade. Ideally, the better they become, the more qualified they are to work with the organization that published the whitepaper. Hence, a reference guide on creating a white paper template is perfect for generating business leads.

Our Takeaways

You can use the steps in this blog to write more effective and substantial whitepapers that are great for attracting leads and growing your marketing funnel. This will help you to keep improving the content of your white paper even more! However, always watch out for which whitepapers are performing the best. 

One of the best ways to scout for them is to check white paper examples pdf and sample white papers on specific topics over the search engines. Each sample whitepaper you go through will give you a fresh insight into how to write something awesome!

Collaborations with: Zach Painter

Zach Painter is an editor and Community Outreach Manager at Freelancewriting.com, where he addresses freelancing queries and strives to help employ and hire writers committed to their craft. 

This post was submitted by a TNS experts. Check out our Contributor page for details about how you can share your ideas on digital marketing, SEO, social media, growth hacking and content marketing with our audience.

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