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White Paper World 4: June 2, 2022

  • Fresh content: How is creating a white paper like baking a blueberry pie?
  • Quick tip: Don’t make your readers do this!
  • This just in: A new metaphor for mashups?

Fresh content: How is creating a white paper like baking a blueberry pie?

blueberry pie fresh out of oven

When you bake it from scratch, of course.

This new article compares six things you need to whip up a scrumptious blueberry pie with six things you need to create a good white paper.

Can you think of any of those things?

For instance, where does the pie plate fit in? Or the oven?

Along the way, you’ll find some related tips on creating an effective white paper.

Check out this new article on the link between blueberry pie and white papers.

Quick tip: Don’t make readers do this!

My pet peeve about B2B content is basic, impossible to argue with, and simple to fix.

Don’t make your readers squint and struggle to read your text.

Make your text crisp, easy-to-read, 100% black type.

If you’re a young designer, remember: You’re not designing for yourself.

You’re designing for your readers, many of them 40, 50, even 60 years old.

From the age of 40, people’s eyes begin to change

40-ish woman with glasses having trouble reading

Ask any optometrist! Ask your parents! Google it!

You’ll quickly find sources like these:

All these experts on vision—plus many others—agree that as people age, the lenses in the eyes get less flexible.

This makes it harder to focus on smaller print.

That’s why many middle-aged people start to need reading glasses.

Older people also need more contrast to recognize small print.

The WCAG 2.0 accessibility standard says the minimum acceptable contrast between background and foreground colors on a screen is 4.5:1.

Black text on a white background passes this test easily.

But any text in this popular shade of grey (#777777) flunks miserably. Your readers have a tougher time seeing this. So why make them work harder to read your work?

And let’s not forget there are many younger folk out there with eyesight challenges. 

So don’t make readers struggle to read your white papers.

They won’t bother. They’ll just click away to something they can read.

If you’re a writer or a marketing manager, don’t put up with grey text. Make your designer change it and get out of that habit.

Nuff said, I hope.

vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream to represent the 3 flavours of white papers

This just in: A new metaphor for mashups

More than 10 years ago, I came up with the three flavors of white papers:

  • Vanilla for an old school product backgrounder
  • Strawberry for a light-and-lively listicle
  • Chocolate for an industry problem/solution

It’s a practical, memorable, sticky idea that has spread far and wide.

Then I extended the “ice cream” idea to mashing up flavors

And that’s actually where the metaphor breaks.

Now a fellow copywriter has zeroed in on the flaw, and proposed an alternative metaphor for what he calls “hybrid” white papers.

You can read his suggestion here. Plus, you’ll discover whether I agree—as well as the “test” that shows my metaphor may still be a good choice.

And I’ll walk you through why writers should use compelling metaphors to strengthen our work.

You can find out more about my ice cream flavors in my 4-page infographic, my 15-page ice cream report, or in 100+ pages of my book White Papers for Dummies.

That’s all for this time

If you liked this e-newsletter, please forward it to a colleague who’s interested in white papers.

You can see all the previous issues here:

To get all the future issues, subscribe here:

And if you have any questions about white papers, please send them to Gordon AT and I’ll do my best to answer in a future article.

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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