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lasagna by DALL-E

Quick tip: Cook up your titles like lasagna

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:

  1. Melted cheese topping that catches the eye.
  2. Rich sauce that forms the main body.
  3. Noodles that lay the foundation of the dish.

Miss out on any one, and you’re left with a dish that’s not quite lasagna.

Similarly, an effective white paper title includes its own three ingredients:

  1. A snappy lead that captures a prospect’s attention.
  2. A main line that describes the essence of the paper.
  3. A second deck that names the target audience.

Consider these examples, all drawn from actual white papers I’ve worked on:


Save the Orangutans!
The Green Life Diamond Closes the Information Gap
A Special Report for Cosmetic Artisans

Is Your Indirect Spend Out of Control?
Building Blocks for an SSC Business Case
An Executive Briefing for CFOs

Don’t Talk to Strangers!
How DNS Egress Filtering Safeguards Mobile Users
A Technical Backgrounder for Network Administrators

Notice how all three elements work together?

  1. The first line pops in a set of search results so that a prospect is more likely to discover it.
  2. The second line describes the content clearly so that a prospect can quickly see what it’s all about.
  3. The third line shows the paper’s ideal audience so that a prospect can tell whether it’s for them.

Together, these three ingredients attract readers, present a crisp overview of the content, and tell a prospect that the paper is aimed at people in their roles.

Any title that does all has done its job.

So, next time you’re naming a white paper, build up your title in three layers, and let lasagna be your muse!

ingredients for lasagna

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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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