Creating your white paper

A white paper is a document to help in decision making. Often large, comprehensive and accurate, this document tackles a subject as a whole, defines the context and scope, contains the right set of questions to be answered and the different criterias. It is often enriched with examples, such as "customer cases".
A White Paper is the result of the work of several experts, synthesizing their knowledge and experience in a field. This type of document sets its author as a reference in its field.

A white paper will have more impact when it relates to a new area where strategic issues remain unanswered. Indeed, policy makers need help to arbitrate on issues they or their teams have not yet mastered:

  • forecasting techniques,
  • technological innovations,
  • new uses,
  • crisis.

A white paper synthesize knowledge on a subject, to make strategic choices. In the business world, but also in politics, administration of a public institutions, it is a base for developing action plans.

  • Benefits for the reader are numberous.
  • The author can also benefit from the creation of a white paper:

A white paper set the author as an authority in his field and add credibility to his level of expertise. This is what differentiates it from other types of communication materials or a press release.

  • If the author is an individual, the white paper becomes a personal marketing tool.
  • If the applicant is a legal person (business), it enhances the knowledge and know-how.

An expert may need to spread the message for several reasons:

  • pedagogical reasons: he wants to spread his knowledge, raise awareness about the importance of a subject ...
  • political or strategic reasons
  • commercial reasons: the need to sell a solution or expertise

Who are involved in the creation of a white paper?

  • The expert(s) of the subject. For a teamwork, a "leader" must be identified.
  • A person who has authority.
  • An editor: To ensure consistency and quality of writing, it is necessary to entrust the writing to a specialist.
  • A grahic designer: provide a graphic layout and graphic identity.

It is conceivable to use an external service provider for writing.

  • Advantages: impartiality, availability, editorial expertise.
  • Disadvantages: privacy issues, ignorance of the culture of your organization.

  • Definition of the subject, objectives, a deadline.
  • Establishment of an Editorial Committee (experts, editors, team leader) is to be held for each strategic step.
  • Preparation of summary (sharing of tasks).
  • Compilation of the source documents and interview experts if the information does not exist in written form. Integration of visual materials into the document.
  • Prewriting of the different sections of the document, to define what information will present in each section and thus avoid repetition.
  • Development of the first graphics
  • Finish the writing of the document (editing)
  • Layout and format (saved in .PDF most of the time)
  • Distribution: corporate website, social networks, press.

It is essential that you include:

  • Regular content verification and validation steps.
  • Thematic proofreading: proofreading for homogeneity, identification of duplicates, the overall consistency of the document and spell checking.
  • Exchanges between experts and editors (interview, verification, cropping background) and the designer (you can imagine a layout along the entire project and not wait until the drafting stage)
  • Set the list of copyrights ...

The creation of a white paper is long and tedious. For a return on investment, see it as a your main communication tool, use it often and don't forget to add your details to it.

Photo © Strezhnev Pavel -

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