Individuals with little writing experience are often
delegated to write the white paper. In the IT industry, there is an assumption that the
developer is best suited to write about the solution. Let's be honest: writers write and
programmers program. There are some individuals who have both skills, but these are hard
In general, developers are not ideal for writing white papers; and neither is the Sales
Manager. Developers will focus on the technical innards, while sales types will gust about
its unique qualities. In doing so, both miss the mark.
You can save yourself a lot of stress by hiring an experienced writer who can look at
your product or service and present it in an easy-to-understand manner. These
writers know how to sell a concept to both a technical and business
audiencenot everyone has this skill.
2. Sharp Presentation
Attractive graphics reinforce your message. Use diagrams and charts to stop
glazed eyes syndrome setting in. Text-heavy documents drain the reader very
quickly! By combining charts, diagrams and tables you weave together the main selling
points and sustain the readers interest.
3. Avoid Terminology
Geekspeak and Three Letter Acronymse.g. B2B, B2Gare endemic in the IT
industry. Experienced writers avoid TLAs as they know that readers wont understand
the terminology, become frustrated and move on. If you have to use these terms, put a
reference section at the start.
No-one likes to be patronized.
Technical terms without a clear definition will lose the readers confidence in
both you and your products. They will stop reading and go somewhere else. Why not? After
all, your beloved White Paper is not the only show in town!
4. Subject Matter Organization
Before you get to the heart of the paper, outline the relevant background materials,
such as industry research figures, that support your arguments. In the opening section,
highlight why your solution exists; in other words, what specific problem does it solve?
Dont meander from topic to topic or you will lose the reader. Each paragraph
should only discuss one idea. Dont mix ideas in the same sentence or paragraph.
For example, before you begin, assume that the reader is completely new to the subject
matter. Then outline the most significant issues and progressively walk through the
solution; begin with the larger issues first and sequentially move though the other
5. Abstract v. Reality
Many white papers discuss the theoretical application on the solution, e.g. Product X
will do Y in situation Z. Thats fine up to a point as it helps paint a picture for
the reader. However, you need to underline your theory with real world
Case studies and customers quotes are a very effective way of demonstrating how your
solution performs in a working environment. Case studies reinforce the theoretical
concepts. They help the reader see how the solution could work for them.
If the reader cant relate to your solution in a practical sense, they will search
elsewhere for another product.
Oddly enough, many of us read the summary first. Because of this, it should capture the
essence of the white paper and identify the most interesting points.
If this section lacks interest, you may lose the reader before theyve even
read the first page!
Make your points. Make them clear. Make them stick.
White Papers are a low-cost way to promote your products and potentially gain an
advantage over your competitors. They also have a long shelf-life. They live on the web,
intranets, and hard-drives long after your product has been rebranded, youve changed
business strategy, or moved onto the golf course.