White Paper Style Guide

text white paper

Definition (from Wikipedia)

white paper is an authoritative report or guide, [sometimes referred to as a Background Report]*, that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body's philosophy on the matter. It is meant to help readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.

The initial British term concerning a type of government-issued document has proliferated, taking a somewhat new meaning in business. In business, a white paper is closer to a form of marketing presentation, a tool meant to persuade customers and partners and promote a product or viewpoint.[1][2] 


*from Purdue OWL


Purpose of White Papers

"The purpose of a white paper is to promote a certain product, service, technology or methodology, and to influence current and prospective customers' decisions. Many white papers are designed for B2B (business to business) marketing purposes, such as between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or between a wholesaler and a retailer. The white paper is used to inform and persuade the other company that a certain offering (such as a product or technology) is superior for solving a particular business problem or addressing a certain challenge."

from Investopedia
Read more: White Paper https://www.investopedia.com/terms/w/whitepaper.asp

Countervailing View

"A whitepaper is a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth report on a specific topic that presents a problem and provides a solution.

Marketers create whitepapers to educate their audience about a particular issue or explain and promote a particular methodology. They're advanced problem-solving guides. Typically, whitepapers require at least an email address for download (usually they require information more than that), making them great for capturing leads."

A whitepaper is NOT:

"A product pitch.
Although Investopedia, [see above],defines a whitepaper as 'an informational document issued by a company to promote or highlight the features of a solution, product, or service', be warned that overtly shilling your own stuff could turn off your readers. The goal of a whitepaper is to inform and persuade based on facts and evidence, not tell the world why your product is the best and they need to buy it now."

from Hubspot