21 Important Rules to Follow While Writing Your White Paper

9 May
2012
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Did you know that you need to follow certain rules if you want to write the perfect white paper?

Would you like to find out what these rules are?

When you write a white paper, you need to mix your procedure, techniques and ideas with certain rules. These rules will help you write the perfect white paper every time. This will help you save a lot of time and money as you will avoid having to rewrite it.

So if you’re keen on writing the perfect white paper, always follow all the 21 rules which have been listed below:-

1. Do a lot of reading:

Even if you’re an expert on that subject, before you write your white paper you need to perform a lot of research by reading on that subject and topic. Read any content you can get your hands on. You can read white papers, blog posts, website copy, articles, brochures, annual reports, journals, etc. These could belong to your company or your competitors. Take down notes of all the information you gather.

2. Interview many Subject Matter Experts:

After you finish reading, spend a lot of time interviewing Subject Matter Experts. These experts could be working inside the company or outside. From them find out more about the subject and get any questions you have cleared. Also ask them for suggestions, which can make your white paper better. Make sure you take down notes.

3. Study your audience:

Another important rule you need to follow is to study your audience. Once you find who your audience are and what they do, spend a lot of time getting to know them better. Find out what their biggest problems are, and write about these problems, and solutions to these problems in your white paper. For more tips on studying your audience read this post.

4. Write an outline:

Another step you shouldn’t forget to follow is writing an outline. Writing an outline can help you save a lot time and help you write the perfect white paper in your first attempt.

5. Have a headline and a sub-headline:

Always make sure you begin your white paper with an attention grabbing, persuasive headline and follow it with a sub-headline which complements the headline.

6. Have an introduction and conclusion:

After the sub-headline, have an introduction which summarizes the contents of the white paper and lets the reader know why they need to read this white paper and how the knowledge gained can help them.

Also have a conclusion after the solutions section which not only summarizes the contents of the white paper, but also bridges the brochure section with the magazine section.

7. Give solutions to problems:

In between the introduction and the conclusion write about the problems faced by your reader and give proper genuine solutions to these problems. Your reader should be able to use these solutions to get rid of their obstacles.

8. Promote yourself only at the end:

This is a very important rule. Promotional information about your company should only be provided at the end in the conclusion and the brochure section. You shouldn’t try to promote yourself in the magazine section. Follow the 80% rule – where 80% of the white paper is educational and only 20% is promotional.

9. Have a call to action:

At the end of the white paper have a call to action that asks the reader to contact you to try out your services or to use your products. Also add your contact details to make it easy for them to contact you.

10. Check and adjust the flow:

After you finish writing the entire white paper read it several times and make sure it flows really well and that all the contents fit in well together. If it sounds odd anywhere, make the appropriate changes and improve the flow.

11. Provide Quality Information:

Always provide quality information and make your white paper unique. The more quality information you provide, the more helpful your white paper will be and the more number of people will want to read it. If your white paper isn’t unique there will be nothing special about it. So fill the white paper with quality information and work on making it unique.

12. Give Away Your Secrets:

One of the best ways to make your white paper unique is to give your secrets away. If you have some secrets tips and techniques no one else knows about, then make sure you include them in your white paper. A secret can make your white paper unique and sought after. Never be afraid to reveal your secrets.

13. Only have one person write it:

Your white paper should only be written by one person if you want it to read well and have a uniform flow and aim, as we all know that too many cooks spoil the broth.

14. Get it proof-read and edited:

After you finish writing the white paper get it proof-read and edited by at least one editor. Sometimes you can have two editors. Especially if you’re new to the subject you’re working on. One of the editors can be an editor who specializes on that subject and the other one can be the editor you always use.

15. Get it designed:

Hire a good designer and get your white paper designed, good design accompanied with your white paper’s content can make your white paper stand out. The design of your white paper should be based around your company or product logo. Don’t be afraid to add a lot of design and colour to your white paper.

16. Make it browser (skimmer) friendly:

Two types of people will read your white paper – some of them will read your white paper thoroughly and some of them will read it briefly. The people, who read your white paper briefly, are known as browsers or skimmers. You need to make sure your white paper is browser friendly if you want to reach a larger audience. For tips on how to make your white paper browser friendly, read this post.

17. Use citations:

You should never use testimonials in your white paper, but you can improve its credibility by adding a lot of citations. Citations show that what you have mentioned is really true and it’s not something you have just made up. Use at least 5 to 15 citations per white paper.

18. Keep it simple:

A white paper is a really long document, if you want your reader to read it completely you have to make it easy to read. They need to be able to read it quickly without any problems even if it’s a very technical subject.

19. Have it branded:

Brand your white paper so the reader knows which company created the white paper, right from the very beginning. Several brand impressions can help create a good impression about your company to your reader.

20. Plan a promotion:

While you write your white paper keep in mind that you have to promote it after you finish it. As you write it plan your promotion – while you learn more about the subject and ways to write it, plan how you can use the same information to promote it. Use the information you gather to also write white paper landing pages, press releases, run social media promotions, blog posts, guest posts, etc. later. Planning this while you write the white paper can help you save a lot of time.

21. Make them technology friendly:

A recent Infographic shows that a lot of people are using technology in the form of cell phones, e-readers, etc. to browse the internet and read documents. Here’s another Infographic by Sam Laird of Mashable  which shows that the latest generation of students are using technology to its fullest too. If you want to get more people to read your white paper, make them technology friendly. This can be done by cutting off the margins, making them available in various formats like mobi, epub, pdf, HTML, etc.

These are the 21 rules you must follow while you write your white paper. Follow them to if you want to write the perfect white paper.

For more tips on how to write a white paper, read this free white paper on how to write a white paper.

Did I leave out any important rules you need to follow while writing a white paper? Are there any other rules you follow? I would love to hear your tips and techniques. Please leave your comments in the comments box below.

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