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Whitepaper definition

Whitepaper (© OpturaDesign /

Whitepaper (© OpturaDesign /

One of the marketing terms that you need to know is the whitepaper. The whitepaper is an important element in marketing public relations for many companies. Not every company uses the whitepaper, but those who have something important to say may opt to do so through this medium. In this article, we will be covering the whitepaper in detail including some tips on how to create a good one.


The Whitepaper Defined

The whitepaper is traditionally a document written on a complex issue concerning an organization determining the organization’s view on that particular issue, and considered to be the authoritative source on that view. The whitepaper started as a British term the referred to papers published by the British government.

However, the term is now used in business-to-business marketing to describe a company’s products and services, traditionally used to highlight facts, figures, statistics and research studies that back up or point to a company’s dominance in a particular area. For example, a whitepaper may be used to list all of the various research that has gone into testing a product from a pharmaceutical company. They are usually meant for in-depth study of products and services and stand out in stark contrast to more traditional marketing materials that are generally colorful and attractive; and consumer friendly.

Whitepaper Variants

There are several variations on color theme that are related to the whitepaper. These are important to understand, because the differences apply to various commercial purposes.

  • The first is the green paper. The green paper differs from the white because it is a proposal or document detailing some kind of consultation rather than being considered as an authoritative source. In fact, the green paper can sometimes be seen as a draft paper to the white paper.
  • The second type of paper is the blue paper. This is for businesses that have a lot of technical details regarding their products and services. The blue paper lists technical specifications and may offer some kind of explanation on how a piece of equipment or new technology works.
  • Finally, there is the yellow paper. While the white paper may contain finalized research that may support a company’s claims on their products or services, the yellow paper contains research that isn’t published at that time and may not even be included in the final white paper.

Types of Commercial Whitepapers

Let’s take a look at the three main types of commercial whitepapers. The first is what is called a background whitepaper. This background whitepaper is probably what most people think of when they think about a whitepaper. This paper presents technical or other benefits that are being offered by a company, or a specific product or service from that company. Generally, this type of whitepaper is used during a product launch or to promote a company’s products effectively.

Another type of whitepaper is called the bullet point whitepaper. Like the name suggests, this type of whitepaper presents points in a series of bullet points. These may be questions, tips, benefits or anything that supports a company’s products or services. They may be quite general, or they might be specifically related to a particular issue. These are sometimes used to compare one company’s products or services with a competitor’s.

Finally, there is the problem-solution whitepaper. This is a business document that is intended to convince, usually used in B2B-type presentations, and presents a common problem that most businesses – or most businesses within a particular industry – experience on a regular basis, followed by a new solution that the business might not have considered before. This is one of the preferred ways to present information to shareholders, as well as gather leads within the B2B industry.

Expert Tips: 5 Ways to Make Your Whitepaper Better

Let’s look at what the experts have to say about making your whitepaper better. Here are five tips that are going to help you create a winning whitepaper, no matter which specific type you are using.

  1. Create your whitepaper around a topic that people will want to read about. While this may seem like somewhat of an impossible task, considering that this is a business document that is somewhat dry by nature, the fact is that if someone is interested in your products then they will likely be interested in most of the topics surrounding them. The best way to do this is to ask yourself who your audience is, and then choose a topic that you know will be interesting to that audience.
  2. Create an amazing introduction. If you ever take a novel-writing class, you will notice that they tell you to make your first paragraph – even your first line – the best thing in the entire novel, because if a reader cannot get past the first paragraph, they are not going to read the rest.
  3. Be descriptive. Make sure that you don’t gloss over the details. That’s what the whitepaper is for – laying out the details of complex features or facts. You want to go into the details that you think your customers will be interested in. However, don’t go overboard. Remember, they are just trying to make a buying decision, not find out exactly how your technology or products evolved.
  4. Make sure that you are writing with an emphasis on value in mind. Yes, you’re writing a professional document that is intended to go deeper into your products than you would normally do in an advertisement, but you are still writing to sell to the customer, and that means that you need to add value whenever you can.
  5. Organize your paper, write your first draft and then rewrite until it is perfect. One of the problems that whitepapers can sometimes suffer from is a lack of organization which makes it difficult to follow the narrative. Make sure that you know exactly what you are going to write and then rewrite your first draft again and again until it presents that organized information as concisely as possible.


The whitepaper is a professional document that is intended to present detailed product information, research, technical specifications or more. There are three variants in addition to the whitepaper: the green paper, the blue paper and the yellow paper. There are also some variations when it comes to whitepapers: the background whitepaper, the bullet point whitepaper and the problem-solution whitepaper. Some of the tips experts recommend when it comes to creating a whitepaper include choosing the right topic, creating a great introduction, being descriptive, writing with value in mind and organizing your whitepaper, writing it and then revising carefully to present the best one possible.


Press releases

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