Technically, there are no minimum requirements for whitepapers. Anyone can call anything a whitepaper — this doesn’t mean you should, though. Without some boundaries on what is and what isn’t a whitepaper, we risk confusing our audience and losing credibility. Here’s what an A+ whitepaper looks like:
- Length: No fewer than six pages, including illustrations, charts, and references. Can be upwards of 50 if the topic requires that much detail. (Chances are, it won’t.)
- Structure: There is usually a title page, table of contents, short executive summary (optional but helpful), introduction, several pages educating the reader about the problem, several pages hypothesizing a solution, several pages offering an example of a company that used that solution to achieve results, and a conclusion.
- Density: Denser than an ebook. Whitepapers aren’t usually easy to skim — in fact, readers usually need to read them over more than once to get every morsel of information out of it.
- Format: PDF in portrait orientation (8.5″ by 11″).
- Style: Professional, serious, well written, and well edited. I’d recommend hiring a graphic designer to design page layout, images, fonts, and colors as well.