Creating Marketing

What Is a White Paper?

What is a White Paper?
Written by Gregg Rosenzweig

We’re here to help you choose the most appropriate content types to fulfill your content strategy. In this series, we’re breaking down the most popular content types to their most basic fundamentals — simple definitions, clarity on formats, and plenty of examples — so you can start with a solid foundation.

What is a white paper?

A white paper is an in-depth piece of content (similar to an ebook) or well-researched report that allows a business to serve as an authority on a topic, often by presenting a problem alongside a solution. They often include charts, graphs and visualizations to help hammer a point home.

What makes white papers more than just ebooks?

Unlike ebooks, white papers deliver an abundance of focused and original research. Their reason for being includes everything from presenting data analysis to new studies to academic research.

They can be created from…

  • Case studies
  • Original data
  • Presentations
  • Research papers
  • Reports

Guidelines for white paper lengths

The long and short of it

Whether it’s a case study or report that requires a deeper dive, white papers often range in depth depending on how much there is in the ocean of information to explore.

A general guide to white-paper length:

  • Short Form (1,500 words or less)
  • Standard (3,000+ words)
  • Long Form  (5,000+ words)

What can white papers do for a business?

A white paper can serve a powerful, persuasive, useful and lead-generating tool positioning a business as a credible thought leader on a given topic.

Popular use-case examples for white papers

White papers establish domain, build authority and trust with an audience — but one of the most compelling reasons to produce one is capturing qualified leads. For example, by capturing personal information upfront as a gateway before granting access to the white paper itself. 

To see a few examples including a templates for production, here’s a great resource from foundr.

Business types:

White papers are historically popular in places such as the government or financial sector when a study’s findings need to be relayed in a relatively succinct format. However, they have been more universally adopted as of late by companies well-versed in content marketing.

White paper examples – short form

White paper examples – standard form

White paper examples – long form

Understanding content quality in examples

Our team has rated content type examples in three degrees of quality (Good, Better, Best) to help you better gauge resources needed for your content plan. In general, the degrees of content quality correspond to our three content levels (General, Qualified, Expert) based on the criteria below. Please consider there are multiple variables that could determine the cost, completion time, or content level for any content piece with a perceived degree of quality. 

Understanding Content Quality in White Papers

More content types with examples:


About the author

Gregg Rosenzweig

Over the past two decades, Gregg Rosenzweig has spent his career writing, producing and publishing engaging content for American mass consumption in the digital, TV and branded content spaces. From serving as a Creative Director on commercial spots to pitching/winning/executing branded content campaigns for Fortune 100 companies, Gregg's been fortunate to work for (and with) top advertising and digital media agencies... as well as some of the most highly respected publishers across the media landscape.

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