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Content Design Manual – White Papers

December 6, 2016

Are you dressed suitably agent? This is a black-tie event, you were given prior warning. The Council of Criminal Content is electing new leadership. Tonight, they host their annual conference where they will select a new spearhead. You are invited agent. Unofficially of course. Please do try your best to go unnoticed this time. We are led to believe that an ex-offender named Lazlo The Snake is front-runner for the position. Your brief is to find out why, agent.

We have our suspicions about Lazlo, of which we cannot go into detail now. Our priority is to find out how Lazlo has wriggled himself into The CoCC. How does he have support? Get us all the intel you can. The mission will fail if you’re spotted so remember, keep a low profile. Your conquest to retrieve the almost forgotten article artefact was a success. We hope your support in the field will continue into this mission. Strictly surveillance only, do you understand? Good luck.

The White Paper Story

White Paper Content Story

The Importance of Looking Good

At this moment in the plotline, we have no idea who Gary is or what he represents. Well to provide some context, we can tell you that Gary is one of the good guys. He too was a candidate in the election to become the new leader of The Council of Criminal Content. He wasn’t lying either, he can do everything Lazlo can do, plus a lot more. The reason the latter triumphed the former is due purely to appearance.

As evident in the mediators reply, Lazlo has an Armani suit and a gorgeous look. Of course, this is just a fictional story. We would never expect an important election in reality to be decided by appearance. That would be silly. It’s decided by money, of course. And how many silly promises you can make. Anyway, the point is, when it comes to white papers it is extremely important that your content looks spectacular. Flashier than a blog post, but wordier than an infographic; the white paper represents the coming together of expertly written technical information and beautiful design.

Lazlo the Snake

Design alone will not lead to success though. Decent white paper content needs to be just that – decent! Lazlo The Snake in this story is an ex-offender of The CoCC and is known to falsely advertise his worthless tripe as valuable content. What’s more, he charges people for the privilege sometimes. People buy it too! Because it’s all dressed up in a fancy coat and its gorgeous. See where are going with this? Unfortunately, there are lots of copywriters just like Lazlo out there, spinning monotonous yarn around the web.

If you are looking to produce a white paper as a way of explaining a product or service, or to provide advice on a particular subject, then the quality of language used should be first priority. The quality of content and the value behind it is key here, not the design. It is the glitz and glam and the Armani suit that often fools people into paying any attention to people like Lazlo. Think about what you are offering though. Words. Context. Subject. Discussion. Opinion. Advice. Information. Not just pretty pictures.

The White Paper Content Checklist

  • Accurate and detailed information
  • Leave no stone unturned on your subject or advice
  • Explain technical elements in clear and concise language
  • Format your text for easy reading
  •  Use graphs, tables, charts, stock images, etc.
  • Design the imagery around the words – not the other way around
  • Plenty of helpful tips and instructions
  • Address the reader directly and involve them throughout
  • Share as far and wide as possible
  • Use white paper content as a lead generation tool
  • Context, context, context!

The Council of Criminal Content

The CoCC is our silly little made-up name for the bad place we wish to send all offenders of language and grammar! Seriously, we are that sad! We have drawings of it too, of how we think it would look. Think Alcatraz meets Hogwarts meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Weird, right? The Council of Criminal Content is where we send bad copywriters. Those who need some correctional therapy to ensure they utilise more storytelling and imagination over keyword-stuffed paragraphs of non-sense jargon. Especially those who can’t write a decent white paper!

If you want to create a white paper to be proud of then you must ensure each word offers something of real worth and value. Words with worth are much more reliable and useful than those based around fluff and industry waffle. Is your opening enticing enough for readers to continue? Are you discussing a solution, without sounding like you are just boringly providing a solution? Is your white paper content the right length? There is a lot more to it than just words around a fancy layout!

Remember to be Helpful and Advisory

Whitepapers are huge in the B2B market. This form of media is used a lot in this marketplace to exchange and share information on a small-content large-visual basis. In the fast-moving world of business this mode of communication and information sharing is well suited. The key thing to remember when creating white paper content is to be helpful and advisory. This piece of writing needs to be beneficial to its users and this benefit will only stem from the content you provide.


This is the third instalment of our blog series Content Design Manual. Throughout the series we will discuss in detail some of the web’s most common content writing services. It looks like this journey may have just come to an unexpected end though, agent. You’ve just been spotted!

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Ian Arnison-Phillips

Director at Content Juice
This piece has been written by Ian Arnison-Phillips. Ian is an experienced content marketer, author and creative writer. His specialisms are web content, blogging, PR and creative content.

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