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White Paper World 40: April 25, 2024

  • Shun the TIONs: Part deux
  • Guest tip: Excise the IZEs!
  • Mini-review: The Elements of Technical Writing
  • This just in: Netline 2024 report on B2B content
  • Book Giveaway Extended: I want some more bad advice!

Listen to this issue in 8.5 minutes:


Placard reading Shun the TIONs!

Shun the TIONs: Part deux

My Quick Tip in the last issue advised writers to avoid puffed-up words ending in TION.

That prompted veteran writer Bob Bly to tell me,

“I have the same criticism about politicize, prioritize, strategize, and other IZE words.

“I even wrote about ‘the rise of ize’ in my book The Elements of Technical Writing.”

And so he did. So with Bob’s permission, I excerpted a Guest Tip from his book below.


placard reading Excise the IZEs!

Guest tip: Excise the IZEs

by Bob Bly, used with permission

2 minute read

The tendency to add IZE to nouns is an old story in English.

The practice has been going on for centuries.

Apologize was born before 1600, and criticize appeared in Shakespeare’s day.

Revolutionize came along before 1800; burglarize first appeared in the 1870s.

Edwin Newman, in his book A Civil Tongue, suggests that by adding IZE to certain words, people believe they are achieving a more businesslike (i.e., “professional”) tone.

Prioritize may sound more businesslike than make priorities, but it is also awkward, pretentious, and incorrect.

Some IZE words are ambiguous

Take finalized. Does this mean to complete? If you finalize my contract, are you signing it? Are you just about to sign it?

The word finalize slips into vagueness by failing to tell us precisely what has been concluded. It could be the signing of a document, the agreement to the wording, the agreement to even write a contract.

Therefore, finalizing a contract is too vague and general to pass along clear meaning.

Here are a few other IZE words to be used sparingly, if at all:

  • Academize
  • Customize
  • Formalize
  • Maximize
  • Normalize
  • Optimize
  • Politicize
  • Productize*
  • Rationalize*
  • Standardize
  • Systematize*
  • Tokenize*
  • Traumatize
  • Utilize

* Four more terrible IZE words added by That White Paper Guy

This guest tip was excerpted from The Elements of Technical Writing by Robert W. Bly and Gary Blake, 1993

Mini-review: The Elements of Technical Writing

2 minute read

If you write white papers about technical subjects, no matter how much experience you have, you can benefit from this book.

I did technical writing on and off for 20 years, producing dozens of thick manuals about hardware and software.

I could have used this book by Bob Bly and Gary Blake during that time.

The Elements of Technical Writing book cover

This title covers most of the struggles people have when writing about technical subjects.

The chapter on how to write numbers alone is worth the price of admission.

As Bly notes, there are many ways to write any number, and writers should pick the best form.

That chapter lays out logical guidelines for expressing numbers, units of measure, equations, and symbols in text.

These sensible rules of thumb will help any writer pick the best way to convey these tricky items.

The book goes on to spell out advice on punctuation, grammar, abbreviations, and caps. I can’t argue with a single item I found here.

There are thicker manuals of style from big companies like IBM and Microsoft, assembled by committees and published decades after this.

But when I want to check how to handle some editorial issue, I pick Bly’s book off my shelf first. And I’ll follow his advice.

You can still get this book from Amazon like I did. It’s an oldie, but a goodie.



chart of Netline demand for AI content

Skyrocketing demand for AI content will double again in 2024. Source: Netline

This just in: Netline 2024 report on B2B content

2.5 minute read

Syndication service Netline publishes detailed and thought-provoking reports on B2B content.

The company’s 2024 report just came out, based on 6.2 million registrations for B2B content in 2023.

The key finding: Demand for AI-related content is surging, up 5.5 times in 2023. And they predict this will double again in 2024 (see chart).

This confirms what I said in December: Writing about AI is the hottest market of the year for white paper writers.

And that’s not all. Netline says AI accelerates every other type of content as well.

“Expect this to hold true for the foreseeable future, as AI accelerates everything across the content marketing universe.” (page 37)

So AI will speed up production and distribution of every form of content about every topic. As if life wasn’t already moving fast enough!

Ebooks rule, once again

What’s the most popular format?

Four out of 10 (39.5%) pieces downloaded from Netline in 2023 were ebooks.

White papers scored only 6%. Every other format was below 10% as well.

According to that, ebooks are 4X to 10X more popular than any other format.

Yet the report acknowledges a point I made a year ago: The line between ebooks and white papers is very fuzzy. (page 31)

Netline sees ebooks as more introductory while white papers are more in-depth.

But you and I know we can call any piece of B2B content by any number of names:

  • Ebook
  • Guide
  • Research report
  • Special report
  • White paper

Netline 2024 report on B2B content cover


So my advice from a year ago stands:

Try calling your white paper an “ebook” or a “research report” or my personal favorite, a “special report.”

You don’t have to change a word inside.

You can get your own copy of Netline’s 2024 report on B2B content here: 




Book Giveaway logo

Book Giveaway Extended: I want some more bad advice!

I want white paper tips so rotten they really stink up the place!

And I’m extending the April Book Giveaway to get it.

You must have heard some. So please share. Tell me anything any self-styled “expert” said about white papers that you don’t agree with.

To enter, drop me an email at gordon @ by 6 PM Eastern Sunday, April 28.

Tell me the worst tip or most misguided hack or silliest advice you’ve ever heard.

I’ll enter you in the Book Giveaway. And if you win, I’ll send you your choice from my list of recommended books on white papers (and everything else).

I’ve already given away 12 books. The next one could be yours. So enter today!


That’s all for now

Please pass this newsletter along to anyone else you think would appreciate it.

Gordon Graham, That White Paper Guy

See all the previous issues here:

Listen to the audio versions here:

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And good luck with all your writing projects!

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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