What Is a White Paper?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a white paper is defined as a detailed and authoritative report. Its purpose is to provide the reader with important information about a particular concept or idea along with solutions or recommendations. In order to write one, you have to have deep knowledge about the topic and do a great deal of research. If you are having trouble with this task, our white paper guide can help get you started.

A white paper can help a particular audience better understand issues, solve problems and make decisions that can benefit their businesses or organizations. They achieve this by presenting a lot of data. They also contain a lot of text, which means it requires a lot of time and concentration to take in all of the information.


There is no universal white paper format since every industry has its own approach and style when writing them. However, most of them share a few common characteristics. For instance, they should be written in a formal tone. In addition, they can be relatively lengthy documents, with a minimum of six pages. No matter your objectives when writing this document, you will find our white paper guide to be beneficial.

A Guide to Writing White Papers for Government Reports and Technical Documents

Every white paper starts with a cover page that includes a clear title stating the topic of the document. An executive summary is optional, but can be convenient for certain readers, especially those who are too busy to read the entire paper. This should summarize the paper nicely and contain no more than 250 words.

Most of the time, especially if the white paper is being drafted by a government agency, the guidelines for how to format the cover page and paper will already be established. Make sure to follow them if they do in fact exist.

After the executive summary is done, you will include a table of contents page. Since government-related white papers are often long, the table of contents will make it easier for the reader to quickly locate the various sections of the paper.

The next part of the paper will be the introduction paragraph. Depending on the audience, you can provide some background and context about the issue or problem. On the other hand, if you are addressing experts, they will likely have a lot of knowledge about the topic and therefore you will not need to devote as much time to this.

After the intro, you discuss the problem or issue in more detail and identify potential solutions, including the ones that you would most recommend. Keep the information clear and concise and demonstrate to the reader that your solution is the best one.

Finish the white paper with a conclusion section that summarizes the problem and solution. Since you will have done some research, you should include a reference list of all the sources as you would with an academic research paper.

White Papers for Businesses

While the purpose of white papers written by government agencies is to propose solutions to problems, business white papers serve as a marketing tool. Create a cover page that contains visually pleasing graphics and images. Choose a title that is concise but catches the reader’s attention.

If your business white paper contains more than ten pages total, you should include a table of contents as the second page. As with government white papers, the table of contents allows the reader to jump to the parts of the paper that interest them the most.

The introductory paragraph should identify a problem or issue. Make sure to frame it in a way that convinces the reader that the issue is important and needs to be addressed. Following the intro, the body paragraphs should provide more background about the issue. Include tables, charts and graphs so that the reader will understand the problem better. Now you will discuss solutions, which will obviously involve recommending your business’s product. Explain how the product will help the reader’s life easier using persuasive data and language.

The way you choose to design the layout of the business white paper is entirely up to you. However, keep it professional and demonstrate to the reader that you are highly knowledgeable and provide products that they can trust. Cite surveys and studies to back up your information. Of course, you will want to include a reference list and properly cite these sources. Also, make sure to include your company’s contact information including email and social media pages.

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