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Quick tip: 3 steps to a stronger title [with example]

bride in white wedding dress holding red roses

The title is the single most important line in your white paper. A good title gets your paper noticed. A poor title gets it ignored. That’s why much of the success of a white paper depends on your title. But many writers struggle with titles. So here’s a step-by-step process that makes writing your title…

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Quick tip: Don’t say “once every xx seconds…”

Woman sitting alone with stat on 1 suicide every 40 seconds

I’ve been researching suicide lately. Don’t worry; I’m not thinking about doing myself in. It’s for a fictional story I’m working on. In my research, I encountered a statistic that always bugs me. Here it is, from no less than the World Health Organization: Suicide: one person dies every 40 seconds1 What a shocker, right?…

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Quick tip: Here’s a great little book on statistics

So far, I’ve posted two quick tips on how to avoid shoddy statistics. Both articles included examples from the real world. You can see those here: Don’t use numbers out of context Don’t say “once every xx seconds…” So how about some positive tips on how to use numbers properly? If you’re interested in how…

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Quick tip: Understand the audience for your white paper

groups of colleagues all put their hands in to signify understanding

Comedians know it. Politicians know it. And white paper writers must know it, too. The first key to success is to understand your audience. “Understanding your audience will help you write the content they need in the words and the way they need it,” says industry veteran Ginny Redish in her excellent book, Letting Go…

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Quick tip: To find the gem, wash away the muck

A tiny piece of emerald on a miner's fingertip

One problem I often see in white papers is over-long quotes from sources. Lengthy quotes can easily slow down your narrative and distract from the point you’re trying to make. If you see a quote that runs two or three paragraphs long, you can be pretty sure the writer included too much. Your goal as…

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Quick tip: 6 easy hacks for ChatGPT [with sample prompts]

junior associate with ChatGPT logo for head

After using ChatGPT for a time, we all tend to learn a few  hacks that give better results. So here’s a quick roundup of six easy ways to pump up your prompts. The first three are commonplace tips you may have heard before. The last three are strange “emotional engineering” tips to push the AI…

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Quick tip: Don’t use numbers out of context

Man cooking up shoddy statistics on laptop

White papers need solid proof to make their case. So please don’t fabricate shoddy statistics out of thin air. If you try to make up a snappy-sounding statistic, you’re taking a huge risk. You’re gambling that: You can get away with deceiving prospects No one will question your sources or analysis No one will say…

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Quick tip: Don’t start your white paper like this

white paper writer clearing his throat before he gets down to saying something new

Too many white papers suffer from what I call “throat-clearing.” That’s when a paper begins by repeating something the audience already knows. Consider this example from a white paper from HP: Rapid innovations in Internet and mobile computing technology are drawing many communications, media, and entertainment (ME) companies to expand into profitable new markets to…

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Quick tip: Cook up your titles like lasagna

lasagna by DALL-E

A mouth-watering serving of lasagna contains three essential ingredients. And so does my favorite format for a white paper title. For lasagna, those three key parts are: Melted cheese topping that catches the eye. Rich sauce that forms the main body. Noodles that lay the foundation of the dish. Miss out on any one, and…

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Quick tip: Check quotes from your sources

business woman checking her quotes

When you quote someone, make sure to get their quote right. This is especially important if they’re an ongoing source you want to go back to again. Remember, most business people are not used to being quoted. They’re not spokespeople. They’re not celebrities. So they’re unsure about the process. To reassure a source, here are…

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