Skip to content

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…

Read More

How to tell a story

Child telling a B2B story with a nasty old glitch

Every child knows what a story is. We’ve all been hearing stories since before we could walk. Marketing gurus constantly tell us to use stories to engage prospects. For sure, any case study or problem/solution white paper must tell a compelling story. But have you ever stopped to ask what “a story” really is? Any…

Read More

Tools of the trade

hand tools on wooden table

We all need tools, and writers are no exception. Here’s a roundup of all the cool tools of the writing trade mentioned in White Paper World so far. I’ve tried all these and each one earns a solid two thumbs-up from me. And I use most of these tools on every white paper I write.…

Read More

What ChatGPT says about white papers

event horizon of a black hole

Every writer is talking about the ground-breaking AI program, ChatGPT. We’re all wondering whether it means the end of our careers or the start of a new and exciting chapter. So I decided to ask the source. I interviewed ChatGPT on the issues every writer is concerned about: What it can and can’t do What it…

Read More

Quick Tip: My favourite way to polish a draft

polishing a white paper draft

Read it out loud. That quickly reveals any awkward phrases or run-on sentences. To me, reading out loud is the absolute best way to revise a white paper draft. But it can be awkward to read a draft to yourself and try to make changes at the same time. There’s a simple solution… Did you…

Read More

A great example of a numbered list

great numbered list from Robert Reich in The Guardian

I recently came across an excellent example of a numbered list. You know, strawberry? It was a political column published in, of all places, The Guardian online newspaper. It’s clearly not a white paper. For one thing, it’s only 700 words long. And it’s an opinion piece in a newspaper, not a piece of B2B…

Read More

Fix a draft that’s too short or too long

fix a white paper length

I’ve seen everything from a one-page sales sheet to a 100-page book called a “white paper.” Clearly these are both pretty extreme examples. Most white papers today are 6 to 8 pages of main body copy (2,000 to 3,500 words). And most have a few more pages wrapped around the main body: Front matter at…

Read More

5 reasons why writers should explore rhetoric


I never studied rhetoric at school. There were no doubt a few courses on rhetoric in my university syllabus. But I flipped right past them. At the time, I considered the topic old-fashioned, boring, and useless. Oh, the folly of youth! Today, I dearly wish I had taken those courses. I’ve come to see rhetoric…

Read More

White paper writer tip #2: Build an argument

head of Aristotle on ancient Greek coin

Every white paper writer must learn how to build a coherent argument. Without one, your white papers won’t convince anyone of anything. But a white paper that presents a strong argument can be right on the money. It can generate great results for years running. The question is, what makes a good argument? And how do…

Read More

A tale of four white papers [with SAMPLES]

four white paper covers

Out of all 300+ white papers I’ve worked on, a few stand out in my recollections. This is the story of four of those projects, and what we can learn from them. There’s nothing magical or heroic about these stories. What makes them memorable is that each project faced a different challenge: An impossible deadline…

Read More