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What Is a White Paper?
Purpose of a white paper, how to write a white paper.
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What Is a White Paper? Types, Purpose, and How To Write One
Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
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A white paper is an informational document issued by a company or not-for-profit organization to promote or highlight the features of a solution, product, or service that it offers or plans to offer.
White papers are also used as a method of presenting government policies and legislation and gauging public opinion.
- A white paper promotes a certain product, service, or methodology to influence current and prospective customer or investor decisions.
- Three main types of white papers include backgrounders, numbered lists, and problem/solution white papers.
- A white paper provides persuasive and factual evidence that a particular offering is a superior product or method of solving a problem.
- White papers are commonly designed for business-to-business marketing purposes between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or between a wholesaler and a retailer.
White papers are sales and marketing documents used to entice or persuade potential customers to learn more about a particular product, service, technology, or methodology.
White papers are commonly designed for business-to-business (B2B) marketing purposes between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or between a wholesaler and a retailer. It can provide an in-depth report or guide about a specific product or topic and is meant to educate its readers.
The facts presented in white papers are often backed by research and statistics from reliable sources and can include charts, graphs, tables, and other ways of visualizing data. A white paper can communicate an organization’s philosophy or present research findings related to an industry.
Types of White Papers
A startup , large corporation, or government agency will use white papers differently. There are three main types of white papers, including backgrounders, numbered lists, and problem/solution white papers.
Backgrounders detail the technical features of a new product or service. Designed to simplify complicated technical information, they are used to:
•Support a technical evaluation
•Launch a product
•Promote a product or industry leader
Numbered lists highlight the key takeaways of a new product or service, and are often formatted with headings and bullet points such as the following familiar format:
•3 Questions to Ask
•5 Things You Need to Know
Problem/solution papers identify specific problems faced by potential customers and suggest a data-driven argument about how a featured product or service provides a solution to:
•Generate new sales
•Educate salespeople on product characteristics
•Build industry interest.
White papers differ from other marketing materials, such as brochures. Brochures and traditional marketing materials might be flashy and obvious, but a white paper is intended to provide persuasive and factual evidence that solves a problem or challenge.
White papers are commonly at least 2,500 words in length and written in an academic style.
A white paper should provide well-researched information that is not found with a simple internet search and have a compelling narrative to keep the reader's attention. The author of a white paper should:
• Research and fully define the topic.
• Create an accurate outline of information.
• Write an attention-grabbing introduction.
• Format the paper for easy reading.
• Revise and proofread.
What Is an Example of a White Paper?
All of these documents, publicly available on Microsoft’s website, focus on aspects of the company's suite of cloud services. In contrast with brochures, these white papers don’t have a clear sales pitch. Instead, they dive into relevant topics, such as cloud security, hybrid clouds, and the economic benefits of adopting cloud computing.
- An AI-First Infrastructure and Toolchain for Any Scale
- Moving your Mission Critical Mainframe Data to Azure
- Mesh and hub-and-spoke networks on Azure
- Backup and recovery overview for Azure users
- Backup and recovery overview for users new to Azure
How Have New Industries Used White Papers?
Cryptocurrencies have also been known to publish white papers during initial coin offerings (ICOs) and frequently issued white papers to entice users and "investors" to their projects.
Bitcoin famously launched a few months after the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto issued its famous white paper online in October 2008.
Why Is It Called a White Paper?
White Papers may have developed from the use of “Blue Papers” in 19th century Britain, where a Parliamentary report cover was blue. When a topic for the government was less serious, the blue cover was discarded and published with white covers. These reports were called White Papers. In the United States, the use of government white papers often means a background report or guidance on a specific issue.
A white paper is an informational document issued by a company, government agency, or not-for-profit organization to promote the features of a solution, product, or service that it offers or plans to offer. The facts presented in white papers are often backed by research and statistics from reliable sources and commonly written in one of three formats that include backgrounders, numbered lists, and problem/solution papers.
Copy Engineer. " The 3 Types of White Papers and When to Use Each One ."
Master Class. " How To Write a White Paper ."
Microsoft. " White Papers on the Cloud and Azure ."
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Parliamentary and government information
- Parliamentary papers
- Committee reports
- Media releases
- Parliamentary libraries
White Papers are used by governments to outline a policy proposal or proposed legislation. As is the case with Green Papers, White Papers are often released to foster discussion and feedback.
Accessing White Papers:
- Capital Monitor may contain White Papers
- Departmental websites might be a good source of current papers
- White Papers may be published in the Parliamentary Papers
- conduct a keyword search in Library Search
Green papers are documents about a particular public policy issue, released by the government in order to stimulate discussion and feedback from key stakeholders. A green paper might include any number of proposals or solutions for feedback.
Accessing Green Papers:
- Capital Monitor may contain Green Papers
- Departmental websites might be a good source of current Green Papers
- Green papers may be published in Parliamentary Papers
- conduct keyword search in UQ Library Search
For further information see What is a Green Paper? by The Guardian
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- Next: Handbooks >>
- Last Updated: Nov 17, 2023 2:09 PM
- URL: https://guides.library.uq.edu.au/how-to-find/parliament-government-information
Official Publications : White and Green Papers
- Commons Papers and Bills
- Command Papers
- White and Green Papers
- Lords Papers and Bills
- Hansard - Parliamentary Debates
- Non-Parliamentary Publications
- By time period
- Overseas Official Publications
- European Union Publications
- Inter-Governmental Organisations
What are 'White' and 'Green' Papers?
The term 'white paper' refers to a published statement of government policy or strategy. They often include the reasons for, and some details of, planned legislative change.
The term 'green paper' refers to government consultation on policy. They often outline thinking and alternatives, but are seeking views from interested parties before proceeding.
A 'green paper' is often, but not always, followed by a 'white paper' on the same subject as the ideas are firmed up.
Finding White and Green Papers
All 'white papers' and some 'green papers' are published in the Command Paper series, so if you know that you need a Command Paper , please see the guidance given via the Command Papers sub-tab above.
For those 'green papers' which are not Command Papers, please see the guidance given via the Non-Parliamentary sub-tab above.
If you don't have full references and therefore don't know the type of publication you need, please see 'Where do I start?' via the main British Official Publications tab above.
Do you need more help?
If you wish to know more about the way British Official Publications can support your research, please get in touch by emailing libenqs @soton.ac.uk .
- << Previous: Command Papers
- Next: Lords Papers and Bills >>
- Last Updated: Sep 14, 2023 10:32 AM
- URL: https://library.soton.ac.uk/officialpublications
Definition of 'White Paper'
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