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White Paper World 14: December 2022

  • Fresh content: White papers and… letters to Santa?!
  • Quick tip: My favorite way to polish a draft
  • Holiday shopping: Just a little time left
  • November book winner
  • What I’m listening to: Huron Carol, with a little history

Santa Claus reading letters from children

Fresh content: White papers and… letters to Santa?!

Do you know anyone writing a letter to Santa this year?

Well, I do. And that got me wondering:

Is a white paper anything like a letter to Santa?

Here’s a lighthearted comparison of these two documents, with tips and a bonus checklist at the end (it’s very thorough—I checked it twice for you).


polishing a white paper draft

Quick tip: My favorite way to polish a 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 know Word can read your drafts back to you?

Read Aloud icon in Word


If you have Microsoft 365, go to the Review Ribbon in Word, then click Read Aloud.

The software starts reading in a robotic voice from the cursor.


Read Aloud settings in Word


You can control the voice by clicking the gear icon on the right.

My favorite voice is Samantha.

And I always adjust the speed to be a little faster than the default.

I find those two tweaks give the most natural-sounding voice.


This feature has been available since Office 2019, but many writers still don’t know it’s there.

So if you’ve never tried Read Aloud, check it out today.


books open in sunshine to suggest recommended books

Holiday shopping: Just a little time left

Still wondering what to get a colleague, another writer in your circle, or even yourself to read over the holidays?

Check out my list of recommended books on white papers and everything else.

You’ll find books on B2B content, B2B marketing, personal effectiveness, presentations, rhetoric, style guides, white papers, and writing (of course).

Happy shopping… and happy reading!

And speaking of books, check out the winner of the November Book Giveaway below.


November book winner

The question for November was: Tell me an indispensable book for writers that’s not already on my list of recommended books.

Thank you to everyone who sent me a suggestion. I’ve got my reading list for 2023 all set to go!

I’ll add as many of your suggestions to my list as quickly as possible.

Once again, we sorted through all your suggestions and picked this winner:

Julie Gubler copywriter full view


Julie Gubler, a versatile copywriter from Utah, does all sorts of content including white papers, on all sorts of subjects. Back in the days when we had a monthly call with writers, Julie was a member.

Julie had two great suggestions:

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
Creative Interviewing by Ken Metzler

I had Ann Handley’s book, but I want to check out the second edition, which just came out.

And I want to add a section on the all-important skill of interviewing.

As a former journalist, I figure I’ve interviewed at least 2,500 people… but not every content writer has had that opportunity. Some new writers are still a little scared or uncertain about interviewing.

So both books will be coming to the list in 2023.

As her contest prize, Julie asked for the book The Elements of Rhetoric from my list, and I’ve sent that off to her in time to enjoy over the holidays.

Stay tuned for lots more book giveaways in the New Year.

And until then, I’ll say it again: happy reading!


What I’m listening to: Huron Carol

Huron Carol sung by Sarah McLachlan

To me, Huron Carol is the most haunting of all Christmas carols.

I love the drums in Sarah McLachlan’s version here, starting at 1:37.

This song has an intriguing 400-year history

Scholars believe it was written by Jesuit missionary Father Jean de Brébeuf in the 1640s in the native tongue of the Wendat (Huron) people.

The original words spoke to the Wendat in imagery that made sense to them:

Have courage, you who are humans. Jesus, he is born.
Behold, the spirit who had us as prisoners, domestic animals, has fled.
Do not listen to it, as it corrupts our minds, the spirit of thoughts.
They are spirits, coming with a message for us, the sky people.
They are coming to say, “Be on top of life, rejoice!”
“Mary has just given birth, come on, rejoice.”

The composer set these words to a traditional French folk tune in a minor key called Une Jeune Pucelle.

The carol was then passed down through the generations.

Today’s English version

About 100 years ago, the English text was rewritten by Jesse Edgar Middleton, the son of a Methodist minister who had no contact with indigenous people.

He even stuck in the words “Gitchi Manitou” that aren’t in the Huron language.

I suppose he thought they sounded “native”:

Twas in the moon of winter-time
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou 
Sent angel choirs instead.
Before their light, the stars grew dim,
And wandering hunters heard the hymn:
“Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In Excelsis Gloria.”

Quite the difference from the original, isn’t it?

You can see the whole story here.

The tragic history of the Wendat people

I find this carol particularly haunting, knowing how the Wendat nation ended.

The population was cut in half by diseases brought by the Europeans. Then they were pounded by their rivals, the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), for control of the fur trade.

By the end of the 1640s—just a few years after this carol was composed—the Wendat nation had collapsed, their villages burned, and their people dead or dispersed.

Today the Wendat nation is remembered through this watered-down version of a song still sung by the colonizers.


That’s all for this time

We’re taking the rest of the month off for a much-deserved break.

We’ll be back in January with more quick tips and other fresh content, more book giveaways, and a few surprises.

You can see all the previous issues here:

And make sure to subscribe here:

And if you have any comments or questions about white papers, please send them to [email protected] and I’ll do my best to answer… maybe in my next article!

From all of us to all of you, we hope the rest of this year and the next bring you peace, wellness, and time to relax with your family and friends.

Gordon Graham
That White Paper Guy

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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