White Papers In Your Future

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White Papers In Your Future

  • What they are and aren’t
  • Why they’re important to you
  • How to compose the rough draft


  • Presentation Goals
  • Definition of White Paper
  • Importance of White Papers
  • Composing the Rough Draft
  • References
  • Goals Summary
  • About Beau Cain

Presentation Goals

  • Understand what white papers are
  • Understand their importance to managers
  • Recognize their potential importance to corporate writers
  • Demonstrate a method of drafting white papers
  • Introduce you to white paper resources

Definition of White Paper

  • What’s a White Paper?
  • Two of the 6 “W”s
  • What Do White Papers Do?
  • What’s Not a White Paper?

What’s a White Paper?

  • For the purposes of this presentation, a white paper is…
    • …an essay…
    • …about a problem (or a few very closely related problems)…
    • …and it’s (or their) probable solutions…
    • …and designed to entice the reader to embrace a particular perspective.

Two of the 6 “W”s

  • Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How
  • Most tech writing focuses on how
  • Marketing communication (MarComm) and white papers in particular focus on why
  • If procedures or processes are important considerations for a business decision, how supports why

What Do White Papers Do?

  • White papers lead decision makers…
    • by identifying a problem (or a set of closely related problems)
      • the problem or problems may be requirements
    • then describing solutions
      • and possibly critiquing those solutions
    • including the preferred solution.

What’s Not a White Paper?

  • Datasheet
  • Product Brief
    • May be an essay, but can also be other narrative form
    • All MarCom, rarely technical
    • Focus is on product's capabilities, not on solving problems or satisfying requirements
  • Advertisment
    • Rarely an essay
    • Usually relies on emotional appeal rather than rational argument

Importance of White Papers

  • Why Are White Papers Important to Corporate Writers?
  • What Else Do White Papers Do?

Why Are White Papers Important to Corporate Writers?

  • Tech Comm is mostly post-sale how-to documents
  • White Papers help make the sale
    • Influences decision-makers
    • Refines why-to (or why-not-to) arguments

Writing white papers

  • Writing white papers
  • makes you
  • indispensable
  • to management and to other decision-makers!

What Else Do White Papers Do?

  • Provide concise marketing statements for datasheets
  • Serve as foundation for product briefs
  • Guide the focus for advertisements

Composing the Rough Draft

  • How To Compose a White Paper
  • Seven Kinds of White Papers
  • Eight Kinds of Essays
  • A Method For Composing Essays

How To Compose a White Paper

  • Decide what kind of white paper to write
    • There are seven kinds of white papers
  • Decide what kind of essay it should be
    • There are eight kinds of essays
  • 7 X 8 = 56 varieties of white papers
  • (Your mileage may vary…)

Seven Kinds of White Papers

  • Pricing and financing discussions
  • Provide a framework for evaluating the return on the investment.
  • ROI Analysis
  • Mid-development
  • Evaluator’s Guide
  • Early review
  • Position the company and define its strategy.
  • Corporate Overview
  • Early review
  • Clarify the organization’s position on an issue relevant to the purchase, such as a standard or regulation.
  • Position Paper
  • Early review
  • Position product and differentiate from competitors.
  • Competitive Review
  • Early review
  • Establish the reasons why the organization needs this product.
  • Business Benefits
  • Early review
  • Establish the organization or product as a leader, define the playing field, set the agenda, and specify decision criteria. Establish the credibility and authority of the organization.
  • Thought Leader
  • Prod. Dev. & Sales Phase
  • Function
  • Type
  • *
  • * These five can be combined into a Marketing Requirements Document

Eight Kinds of Essays

  • Definition
  • Classification
  • Description
  • Comparison/ Contrast
  • Sequence
  • Choice
  • Explanation
  • Evaluation

A Method For Composing Essays

  • Develop the thesis
  • Develop the conclusion
  • Write either the opening statement or the closing statement
  • Write the other
  • Choose the supporting points that will be discussed between the opening statement and the closing statement
  • Thesis
  • Conclusion
  • Opening statement
  • Closing statement
  • Supporting point #1
  • Supporting point #2
  • Supporting point #3

White Papers Inform Decisions

  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Design
  • Engineering
  • Finance
  • Sales
  • Support
  • Technical Communication Professionals can insinuate themselves into each of these areas by writing white papers for each phase of product development and sales


  • Contact Me!
  • References, slides 1 through 3

Contact Me!

  • Beau Cain
  • bodiodo@yahoo.com
  • My thanks to STC NorthBay for hosting my presentation August 17, 2006
  • and to STC Orange County for hosting my presentation November 14, 2006

References, slide 1 of 3

  • Society for Technical Communication
    • Silicon Valley Chapter
      • www.stc-siliconvalley.org
    • NorthBay Chapter
      • www.stc-northbay.org
    • Orange County Chapter
      • www.ocstc.org

References, slide 2 of 3

  • Writing White Papers, Stelzner, Michael
    • www.writingwhite papers.com/book
  • White Paper Source, Stelzner, Michael
    • www.whitepapersource.com
  • The Art of the White Paper, Gordon, Manuel and Gordon Graham
    • www.gordonandgordon.com
  • The Free Online Dictionary of Computing
    • www.dictionary.com.
  • How to Write a White Paper, Perry Marshall
    • www.write-a-white-paper.com
  • Accelerating the Production of High Quality White Papers: the Benefits of the FastDraft™ Methodology, The Appum Group
    • http://www.whitepapercompany.com/pdfs/FastDraft.pdf

References, slide 3 of 3

  • Writing White Papers, Forrest Warthman, Warthman Associates
    • www.warthman.com
  • Guidelines for Writing White Papers, Ivan Walsh
    • www.klariti.com/business-writing/guidelines-white-papers.shtml
  • Mastering the Requirements Process, “So What Is a Requirement?”, Robertson, Suzanne, and James Robertson, Addison-Wesley, 1999, page 5
  • The White Paper White Paper: How to Produce a Successful White Paper, and Why, Radding, Alan, Larry Marion
    • www.triangle-publishing.com/services/whitepaper.pdf
  • Using White Papers to Market Healthcare Products, Delatorre, Tammy, HealthLeaders News
    • http://qhr.healthleaders.com/news/

Goals Summary

  • Do you understand what white papers are?
    • Can you recognize similar documents that aren’t white papers?
  • Do you understand their importance to managers?
  • Do you recognize their potential importance to corporate writers?
  • Can you demonstrate a method of drafting white papers?
  • Do you know some white paper resources?

About Beau Cain

  • Taught Writing White Papers for Product Development and Sales at San José State University’s Professional Development Center
  • Taught Presentation Skills at San Jose City College’s Institute for Professional Development
  • Developed SJSU-PDC’s Advanced Technical Writing and Tools Certificate
  • STC’s last Region 8 Director 2004 – 2007
  • Community troubleshooter, Leadership Resource Community

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