How Long Is a White Paper?

Different audiences want different length white papers. Find out the average word counts for 3 common audience groups.

‘How long is a white paper?’ is a common question, but nobody seems to have a good answer. So, we did some research. We analyzed a random sampling of 29 white papers from B2B SaaS companies and observed some interesting results. Read on to see our findings. 

In this post, we’ll cover the following topics:

What is a white paper?

A white paper is a comprehensive document that a company creates to explore a specific topic, ultimately offering insights, analyses and solutions. It is not a sales pitch, but rather an educational resource.

Typically, white papers are used in B2B marketing to establish thought leadership and address industry challenges. They present research, case studies and best practices to help readers gain a deeper understanding of the topic at hand.

Well-crafted white papers are incredibly effective tools. In fact, 45% of B2B buyers find white papers are valuable when evaluating solutions. Similarly, 51% of B2B content marketers find that white papers lead to some of their best marketing results.

How long is a white paper?

Based on the answers we were seeing online, a typical white paper length is about 3,000 to 6,000 words long. But when we sought to answer the question ‘how long is a white paper?’, we found that the range was 2,000 to 4,000 words.

Average length of a white paper

However, there’s no hard-and-fast rule for an ideal length of white paper. Keep in mind that a white paper’s length should reflect the topic and the depth of information your audience wants.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to tailor your white paper to your target audience. Think about why and how your audience will use your white paper. A decision-maker might benefit from in-depth details, while someone short on time may appreciate a shorter document.

That said, sometimes it’s helpful to have a concrete starting point. 

To help out, we conducted an (informal) study on the average word count of white papers for these three audience categories: 

  • technical professionals
  • C-suite executives
  • employees in marketing, sales, operations and administration

We rounded up 8 to 11 sample white papers per group and determined the word count of each. Then, we calculated the average word count of each category. 

Average length of a white paper by audience

How long is a white paper for a technical audience?

On average, a white paper aimed at a technical audience is 4,038 words long. However, this category had significant variation: our set of sample white papers had word counts ranging from 840 to 8,120.

Average length of a white paper for a technical audience

White papers aimed at a technical audience generally benefit from being detailed. They are read by everyone from the chief technology officer to the developer.

These employees play a key role in implementing efficient technical solutions and are looking for a strong understanding of how your technology works and how they would implement it. The more relevant details you offer, the better they can evaluate your solution.

To obtain our average word count, we looked at the following white papers:

How long is a white paper for the C-suite?

White papers aimed at C-suite executives, including Chief Executive Officers and Chief Financial Officers, are typically 2,980 words long. For this category, the word count of our sample white papers ranged from 1,217 to 4,735.

Average length of a white paper for a C-suite audience

This average may seem low, especially when compared to the typical white paper length (3,000 to 6,000 words) mentioned earlier. However, keep in mind that C-suite executives are typically looking for a big-picture understanding of how a solution can address their organization’s critical pain points while delivering the best return on investment. 

C-suite readers are less interested in the finer details that necessitate a longer word count. Instead, they prioritize high-level insights and a clear understanding of the business case for adopting new technology. 

We used the following white papers to identify the average word count for white papers aimed at C-suite executives:

How long is a white paper for employees in marketing, sales, operations and administration?

White papers aimed at a non-technical audience (including marketing, sales, operations and administration employees) have a relatively short average length of 1,975 words. The white papers that we examined for this category ranged from 881 to 2,674 words long.

Average length of a white paper for a marketing, sales and operational audience

Keep in mind that managers are engaged in day-to-day operations and seek solutions to pressing challenges. They also have firsthand experience with any problems they need solutions for—and realize how important it is to solve the problem. 

Given their background, employees are looking for practical insights and actionable strategies to enhance performance. While they still value informative content, they greatly appreciate short white papers that deliver concrete recommendations that improve their team’s workflow.

We looked at the following white papers to determine the average word count of a white paper for employees in marketing, sales, operations and administration:

Downside of a short white paper

While brevity has its benefits, there are significant downsides to producing a white paper that’s too short. A shorter white paper may fail to deliver sufficient value to readers, especially if your competitors offer comprehensive white papers. Providing less value than others can put you at a significant disadvantage in readers’ eyes. 

Additionally, it can be challenging to cram all necessary information into a condensed format. When you cut excessively, you risk leaving readers with unanswered questions or coming across as uninspiring (not-so-fun fact: 38% of B2B buyers have found some content marketing assets to be “too generic”).

When readers download a white paper, they expect in-depth analysis and actionable recommendations—not surface-level information. By skimping on content for the sake of a reduced word count, you risk disappointing your audience and missing out on the opportunity to engage them.

A few final thoughts on white paper length

When you begin to create a white paper, you need to carefully think about its ideal length. 

Remember, your white paper’s topic and target audience should inform the target length. Longer white papers may provide more in-depth insights for technical audiences, while shorter ones can cater to the different needs of C-suite executives and employees. 

That said, the averages that we mentioned above are not hard-and-fast rules. If your topic requires a shorter- or longer-than-average word count, it is better to write a high-quality white paper than to use filler text or skip important topics. Just be aware of reader expectations. At the end of the day, your white paper length should be tailored to your audience and their needs.

Need help writing your white paper?

Our experienced content writers are happy to write your next white paper. Check out our white paper writing service for more information.

White Paper Templates: 5 Tools to Create Engaging Designs

A white paper is an effective marketing tactic, but only if it’s well-designed and engaging. See 5 white paper template tools you can use.

51% of content marketers report that white papers deliver some of their best results. But due to their lengthier nature, white papers require a user-friendly white paper template and design to be effective. 

Just take a look at the white paper excerpts below for an example of the power of good design. Both samples have the same text; the only difference is their design. Which version seems more interesting—and eye-catching?

Sample #1

Sample 1 of a white paper with no design

Sample #2

Sample 2 of a white paper with a design

Source: Athennian’s Entity Management Software Buyer’s Guide

Of course, the second sample is more visually appealing.

But it can be time-consuming to create a white paper design from scratch. White paper template tools make it easier to create a white paper that is visually appealing and easy to digest. That said, with so many available tools, it can be tough to know which tool to use.

In this post, we’ll share 5 white paper template tools, as well as tips to help you choose which white paper template will work best for your content:

5 white paper template tools to try

If you are looking for a white paper template tool, there are plenty of options to choose from. However, each tool offers its own distinct advantages. To help you choose the best white paper template tool for your situation, we will cover the pros and cons of 5 popular tools. 

1. Venngage white paper templates

Venngage homepage - the company offers white paper templates

Venngage offers a wide variety of white paper templates that you can edit directly on its site. The free plan allows you to access many designs and try out the editing tools. However, to access all templates or download an editable copy of your white paper, you need to sign up for a business-tier membership for $24/month (billed annually).

Pros:

  • Templates are tailored for a variety of different industries
  • Allows you to customize many designs for free
  • Easy to use with minimal graphic design experience
  • Designs are compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Americans with Disabilities Act Standards (ADA) requirements
  • Visual impairment simulator lets you see how readers with various eye conditions will view your white paper
  • Unique data visualization suggestions

Cons:

  • Cannot download files without a paid subscription
  • Free plan only lets users upload 6 images
  • Difficult to import branding

2. Visme white paper templates

Visme homepage - the company offers white paper templates

Visme allows you to create design-heavy documents, including white papers, infographics and ebooks. It offers a wide range of pre-made white paper templates to choose from, and you can also generate new designs via AI. 

You can edit some templates for free, but you have to buy a paid membership to download your design. Membership begins at $12.25/month (billed annually), although you’ll need to pay $24.75/month (billed annually) to download an editable copy of your design.

Pros:

  • Includes templates for a wide variety of content formats, including white papers, slide decks and videos
  • Can edit some templates for free to try out controls
  • Template gallery lets you browse by format and industry
  • Comprehensive knowledge base
  • Pro subscription tier allows you to import your brand kit
  • Offers a variety of integrations, including Unsplash and Hubspot
  • AI tools allow you to type in a prompt to generate a layout or create design elements

Cons:

  • Cannot download files without a paid subscription
  • Controls can be difficult to use
  • Website occasionally forces users to sign out

3. Envato Elements white paper templates

Envato Elements homepage - the company offers white paper templates

Envato Elements offers user-generated white paper templates that you can download and then edit in your preferred application. The gallery allows you to filter designs by page orientation, color profile, supported application and image properties. This makes it easy to find a design that aligns with your workflow and expectations.

Membership costs $16.50/month (billed annually), but is discounted when organizations purchase multiple subscriptions.

Pros:

  • No learning curve since you can edit the files in the program of your choice
  • Each download comes with a lifetime commercial license
  • Design gallery filters make it easy to find what you’re looking for
  • Cheaper than other options on this list, with discounts for multiple team members

Cons:

  • No free trial
  • You must supply your own editing software
  • Designs are user-generated; their quality varies
  • Designs are not tailored to different industries

4. Adobe Stock white paper templates

Adobe Stock homepage - the company offers white paper templates

Adobe Stock is Adobe’s graphics and template marketplace. The database offers a wide variety of visually appealing and user-generated white paper templates. Each template uses one of Adobe’s proprietary file formats so you’ll need access to Adobe software to edit the templates. 

Membership costs $29.99/month (billed annually) and lets you download up to 10 files per month. Members who opt for monthly billing still pay $29.99 per month, but only have access to 3 files per month.

Pros:

  • Over 5,000 search results for “white paper template”
  • You can browse designs from specific creators
  • No learning curve for those who already use Adobe’s graphic design programs
  • “Undiscovered Content” filter helps you find white paper templates that have never been downloaded before so you can avoid common designs

Cons:

  • Any graphics displayed in a template’s preview are not included in your license; you have to pay for those images separately
  • You have to use an Adobe graphic design program to edit the templates
  • Relatively expensive
  • Can only download 10 designs per month on a yearly subscription (3 designs per month on a monthly subscription)

5. Storydoc white paper templates

Storydoc homepage

Storydoc is a platform that provides interactive white paper templates. The templates include moving visuals, interactive datasets and more. 

Storydoc also comes with generative AI capabilities which can be used to create text or images when needed. The cheapest membership tier costs $30/month (billed annually).

Pros:

  • Designs are clean, engaging and professional
  • White papers can include dynamic features such as interactive datasets and graphics 
  • Web accessibility for all design elements
  • White papers can be exported as a PDF

Cons:

  • White papers can be embedded on your website, but are hosted on Storydoc’s website
  • Expensive compared to other options on this list
  • Many features are restricted to higher membership tiers
  • Not many white paper templates available
  • May not be ideal if you want to share hard copies of your white paper

Tips for choosing which white paper template

It is important to choose your white paper template carefully, as it will have a big impact on how readers experience your white paper. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Branding: choose a white paper template that complements your brand aesthetic

  • Evaluate customization options: look for designs that you can tailor to your content and brand guidelines

  • Topic relevance: pick a white paper template whose style reflects the seriousness or creativity of your topic

  • Readability: prioritize templates that feature clean layouts, legible fonts and accessibility features

  • Compatibility: if your chosen white paper template tool does not include editing capabilities, make sure you can edit the templates outside of the tool (some use proprietary file formats)

  • Design quality: a good white paper template includes an engaging, dynamic layout and design elements (check out our white paper design and white paper examples posts for ideas)

FAQs about white paper templates

White power templates are handy tools, but it can be easy to misunderstand their benefits and uses. To help out, we’re answering some frequently asked questions about templates. If you have additional questions, visit our comprehensive guide to writing a white paper.

What is a white paper template?

A white paper template is an editable design that outlines a white paper’s structure and visual layout. Companies can insert the text for their white paper directly into the template, streamlining the creation process.

By providing a visual blueprint, a template allows companies to focus on content rather than layout and design. Ultimately, this means that businesses can create professional and visually appealing white papers without the need for extensive graphic design skills.

Why is a white paper template important?

It can be time-consuming and resource-intensive to design a white paper template from scratch. Businesses may struggle with inconsistent branding, mismatched formatting and disjointed visual elements when creating a new layout. 

If these issues remain in the final white paper, they detract from the document’s professionalism and readability—and ultimately affect the success of the asset.

A template streamlines the design process, allowing companies to focus on delivering high-quality content and getting in front of their target audiences.

What are the benefits of using a white paper template?

A white paper template offers a number of different advantages, including:

  • Consistency: design elements are consistent, ensuring uniformity in branding and formatting

  • Professionalism: a good white paper template looks professional and visually appealing

  • Effectiveness: a compelling design makes a white paper more engaging and easier to read, which ultimately improves the company’s credibility as a thought leader and moves prospects along the buyer’s journey

  • Efficiency: a white paper template simplifies the creation process, saving time and resources

  • Customization: most templates allow users to customize their design to suit specific needs

  • Accessibility: many templates are screen-reader friendly and designed with accessibility guidelines and best practices in mind

A white paper template can simplify the white paper creation process

A high-quality template makes it significantly easier to create a compelling white paper. After all, these tools eliminate the need for extensive graphic design skills.

Marketers must choose their templates wisely since some designs are better suited for certain situations than others. However, with so many template tools, there are templates for any situation. 

Want to create your next white paper?

Our expert content writers can write your next white paper. Check out our white paper writing service.

9 White Paper Examples to Inspire Your Next White Paper

See examples of technical, business and marketing white papers to guide you in creating an engaging content asset for your company.

White paper examples are an excellent source of inspiration and guidance when creating a white paper of your own. They can help you explore different potential layouts and determine which elements to include in your content asset. 

Insights from looking at others’ white papers are extremely valuable, as it can be tough to create a white paper from scratch—especially if you are working on your first white paper. 

To help, we’ve rounded up nine white paper examples to inspire and guide you.

We’ll cover the following topics in this post:

White paper examples: why are they important to look at?

White paper examples can provide content marketers with inspiration by showcasing innovative ideas and effective formats. The examples offer a glimpse into what works well, helping you to craft engaging and persuasive content.

Additionally, examples of white papers help marketers identify which elements you should include in your own white papers, increasing the likelihood that your white paper will be effective.

White paper examples by audience

It’s important to consider the target audiences when looking at examples of a white paper. After all, different audiences have different needs. The most effective white papers are tailored to their specific target audience’s preferences.

To help you make the most of our white paper examples, we’ve organized them into three categories:

1. Technical white paper examples

White papers aimed at decision-makers who manage their organization’s technology or oversee technical teams, including chief technology officers (CTOs).

2. Business white paper examples

White papers written for C-suite executives, including chief operating officers (COOs) or chief financial officers (CFOs).

3. Marketing white paper examples

White papers aimed at managers in marketing, operations and sales departments.

While it can still be helpful to look at white paper examples written for any target audience, we recommend you begin by looking at examples that correspond to your white paper’s target audience.

Technical white paper examples

Our technical white paper examples include white papers written for CTOs and other technical decision-makers. Since these employees evaluate software solutions to find the best fit, they need to understand how each technology works and how it is implemented. As a result, these technical white paper examples are generally lengthier and more detail-oriented than white papers for other audiences.

White paper example #1: GitHub

How to get started with GitHub Enterprise Cloud

29 pages; 7,900 words

GitHub white paper example

This GitHub white paper example outlines 11 high-level steps that companies need to take to get started with GitHub’s Enterprise Cloud solution. The content provides a clear implementation roadmap and features many diagrams to help guide readers through the process. The visuals also help readers stay engaged.

Purpose: This technical white paper is a bottom-of-funnel resource meant to show CTOs how straightforward it is to implement GitHub Enterprise Cloud, thus minimizing their objections to purchasing the solution.

See GitHub technical white paper example

White paper example #2: Alteryx

AWS + Snowflake + Alteryx Analytics Cloud Platform: Technical Guide

18 pages; 4,000 words

Alteryx  white paper example

This Alteryx technical white paper example provides detailed steps for connecting and configuring your Amazon Web Services instance with Snowflake and Alteryx. It also includes a variety of diagrams and graphics to help readers visualize each step.

Purpose: The white paper shows technical employees how a unified tech stack can benefit their organization, plus it walks them through the setup process. This document is likely used to cross-sell or upsell Alteryx’s services to existing customers.

See Alteryx technical white paper example

White paper example #3: Crowdstrike

Application Security Posture Management: Securing Cloud-Native Applications at Scale

27 pages; 8,100 words

Crowdstrike white paper example

This Crowdstrike technical white paper gives an overview of the current cloud security landscape and introduces application security posture management (ASPM), the core technology discussed. It also provides detailed guidance on how to operationalize ASPM. 

Purpose: The white paper aims to build a strong business case for adopting ASPM technology, as it demonstrates that implementation is manageable and explains the risks of not adopting ASPM. It serves to push decision-makers toward purchasing Crowdstrike’s ASPM solution.

See CrowdStrike technical white paper example

Business white paper examples

Our business white paper examples include white papers tailored for C-suite executives, including COOs. These leaders are focused on finding the best returns on investment, so they’re interested in white papers that discuss high-level issues and the business case for adopting new technology. 

Business white papers are typically concise and emphasize executive summaries, strategic benefits and potential impacts on an organization.

White paper example #4: HackerOne

The Executive Guide to Human Security Testing

11 pages; 2,400 words

HackerOne white paper example

This example of a white paper from HackerOne offers a look at human security testing. It provides reputable statistics to highlight the risks of security inaction and the benefits of implementing human security testing. 

It also outlines HackerOne’s human security testing management service and discusses use cases. The inclusion of company photography makes the white paper feel more personalized and authentic.

Purpose: This business white paper example builds a high-level business case for considering HackerOne’s human security testing management service. Likely targeting the middle to bottom of the sales funnel, it aims to persuade executives of the solution’s value and urgency.

See HackerOne business white paper example

White paper example #5: Azure

Digital Transformation and the Art of the Possible: An Innovation Opportunity with SAP and Microsoft

15 pages; 3,200 words

Azure white paper example

This Azure white paper example encourages business leaders to embrace digital transformation so that their business stays competitive, rather than being left behind. Although its dense text and stock images are not ideal, the business white paper example includes a persuasive customer video testimonial. Additionally, the white paper’s infographics help make its contents easier to digest.

Purpose: The white paper aims to excite executives about the potential benefits of digital transformation. By listing advantages and showcasing how other companies are advancing, it seeks to motivate business leaders to adopt Azure’s solutions and avoid falling behind competitors.

See Azure business white paper example

White paper example #6: Okta

Adaptability Imperative Report

20 pages; 3,100 words

Okta white paper example

This white paper, based on a survey of 100 chief executive officers (CEOs), COOs and CFOs of large global enterprises, explores current business priorities and future challenges. It emphasizes the importance of adaptability for business success, using charts and graphs to present data in an easily digestible format.

Purpose: This business white paper example aims to establish Okta as a thought leader by providing original research and unique insights. 

See Okta business white paper example

Marketing white paper examples

Our marketing white paper examples target managers across various departments, including marketing, sales and operations. Since these managers are actively engaged in day-to-day operations, they seek practical solutions to overcoming challenges and improving performance. As such, marketing white papers are usually concise, address specific pain points and offer specific strategies for success.

White paper example #7: Cvent

Scaling Your Event Program for ROI

13 pages; 2,100 words

Cvent white paper example

This example of a white paper describes how to scale event programs while maximizing ROI and efficiency. It includes original research conducted by Forrester, so the document is especially valuable to readers. It also positions Cvent as a thought leader. Charts and graphs facilitate readers’ understanding.

Purpose: This marketing white paper example aims to establish Cvent as a go-to solution and thought leader in the event marketing space by offering insights and original research.

See Cvent marketing white paper example

White paper example #8: Fleetio

Budgeting 101 for Fleet Managers

11 pages; 2,400 words

Fleetio white paper example

This marketing white paper example provides practical information on how fleet managers can monitor costs through better fleet financial planning. It includes Q&As, pros and cons and examples, ensuring high value for its intended audience. 

The white paper also features infographics, charts and design elements to help readers stay engaged and better understand the content.

Purpose: This marketing white paper example serves as a top-of-funnel resource for fleet managers who are just becoming aware of their budgeting challenges. It aims to engage and educate them, positioning Fleetio as a valuable resource early in their problem-solving journey.

See Fleetio marketing white paper example

White paper example #9: MessageGears

14 Strategies to Deliver Moments-based Messaging at the Enterprise Level

5 pages; 1,200 words

MessageGears white paper example

This hybrid marketing white paper example combines a how-to guide and checklist to deliver interactive and engaging content. It also provides clear steps to deliver moments-based messaging and offers helpful examples, making it a practical reference document.

Purpose: This white paper serves as a top-of-funnel resource for an audience seeking tips on solving specific messaging challenges. It aims to engage and educate potential customers while positioning MessageGears as a solution provider for their issues.

See MessageGears marketing white paper example

White paper examples offer valuable insights

White paper examples are an excellent way to gain inspiration before creating your next white paper. Remember, it can be especially helpful to look at white papers that are tailored for your target audience since each group has its own preferences and needs.

That said, while the white paper examples discussed earlier offer valuable insights, they are just a starting point. You can check out our comprehensive guide to creating a white paper for more advice on how to write a white paper that resonates with your audience. 

Need some help with your next white paper?

Our team of expert content writers is happy to write your next white paper. Check out our white paper writing service for more information.

White Paper Design Elements, Best Practices and Tips

Learn what white paper design elements to include for an engaging asset—and see 5 companies that can help you with your design.

Updated May 2024: No one will read a dense 20-page white paper with no headings, charts or images—no matter how valuable and engaging the content is. So make sure you also prioritize great white paper design when publishing your next white paper. 

Find out what you need to keep top of mind for your white paper design so that your audience stays engaged and reads the whole thing. In this post, we’ll cover the following topics:

White paper design: what is it?

White paper design is the art of creating white papers that are visually engaging and easy to navigate. A well-designed white paper uses graphic design and organizational principles to guide readers’ attention and help them process complex information. 

Each aspect of white paper design plays a crucial role in determining a document’s readability. The following elements all have a significant impact on a reader’s experience with your white paper:

  • table of contents
  • structure and hierarchy of text
  • layout of the text on the page
  • typography and color palette
  • use of imagery
  • any accessibility features

Why is a good white paper design so important?

Much like any other type of long-form content, good white paper design practices can make your asset significantly more reader-friendly.

Imagine you opened a white paper, only to find it was poorly formatted and included few visual elements. Perhaps each page was extremely busy, leaving your eye darting around the page, trying to identify the most important elements. Would you be willing to read the entire document—especially if you had no clue what any given page would discuss?

Now, let’s contrast that hypothetical white paper design example with one that includes relevant graphics, plenty of white space, clear headings and a table of contents. Even if both documents offer similar insights, this white paper design is much more inviting. It sets your expectations in advance and even allows you to skip to a relevant section if you like.

The importance of good white paper design cannot be overstated. It is the difference between capturing your audience’s attention versus forcing them to struggle through the pages. Remember that white papers are meant to build your company’s reputation; poor white paper designs leave a poor impression. 

8 white paper design elements you need to include

A high-quality white paper is most successful when its text and design work well together. To that end, white paper designs should always include the following 8 elements to make white papers more engaging and easier to navigate.

1. Table of contents

The table of contents sets readers’ expectations and allows them to quickly locate specific sections or topics of interest. It streamlines the reading experience and helps readers navigate through the document to find the information they need.

2. Introduction

The introduction sets the stage for your white paper, providing readers with an overview of what to expect and why the topic is relevant to them. It should be concise yet compelling, grabbing the reader’s attention and clearly outlining the white paper’s purpose and scope. An engaging introduction establishes credibility and builds anticipation for the content that follows.

3. Headings

Clear and informative headings are key to guiding readers through your white paper and breaking up large blocks of text. Descriptive headings help readers understand the structure of your document. They also improve readability by allowing readers to quickly scan the document and locate the information most relevant to them.

Remember that not all headings are created equal. Your headings should offer a clear sense of what each section covers. They should also strike a balance between offering a meaningful description while still being skimmable.

4. Graphics

Relevant graphics, such as charts, graphs and illustrations, can help readers visualize data and concepts, ultimately aiding comprehension. When used strategically, graphics add depth and context to the main content. Graphics also offer readers’ eyes a brief break and the visual variety can help refocus readers’ attention.

5. Sidebars

Sidebars present an opportunity to highlight key points, additional insights or related resources without interrupting the main content. Like graphics, they offer readers a change in focus, which can help to maintain engagement. When used effectively, sidebars can enrich the reader’s experience and reinforce your white paper’s main points.

6. Conclusion

The conclusion serves as the final takeaway for readers, summarizing key insights and reinforcing the main message. It should provide closure and leave readers with a clear understanding of the implications of the information presented. A well-crafted conclusion ensures that readers come away from the white paper with a sense of satisfaction and understanding.

7. References

White papers are typically built upon a company’s insights and research, but citations help to develop readers’ trust and reinforce the idea that the company is up-to-date on industry trends. 

All references should be properly documented so that readers can verify the presented information. References can either be shared on each relevant page or in a dedicated section at the end of your white paper.

8. White space

White space reduces visual clutter, making it key to improving user experience and readability. Incorporating ample white space throughout your entire white paper creates a sense of balance and harmony, making the document more inviting and easier to navigate.

5 white paper design best practices (plus extra tips)

Whether you’re modifying a design template or creating a white paper design from scratch, it’s a good idea to stick to the following best practices:

5 white paper design best practices

1. Create a visually appealing cover 

Even though your B2B SaaS white paper is digital, an eye-catching cover page is essential to getting your audience’s attention. The cover page is your reader’s first impression of your content, and a compelling white paper design entices them to dive deeper. 

Make sure your graphics and text are on-brand and engaging—and that they work together to give readers a strong sense of what they’ll learn. If your audience can’t tell what your paper is about and why it will benefit them, they’re less likely to take the time to read it. Hook your readers right from the start with an interesting cover that clearly conveys your message. 

2. Make your white paper design easy to navigate

Most readers are strapped for time, so they’ll go directly to the section of your white paper that applies to their pain point or the business decisions they need to make. Including a clearly labeled, clickable table of contents at the beginning of your white paper allows readers to easily navigate to the most relevant sections. 

Throughout your white paper, use different fonts, colors and sizes of headings to clearly differentiate between sections. These visual guide posts keep readers engaged and moving forward through the content. 

Page numbers should stand out and be easy to find. You want people to reference your white paper while making decisions. Allowing them to share information easily will increase the likelihood of finding and disseminating key information. 

3. Use high quality photos

Find non-generic, high-resolution photos to sprinkle throughout your white paper design. Use pictures that show faces and resemble the people you want to read your B2B SaaS white paper. If you’re targeting C-suite executives, for example, find photos that showcase business meetings. Your images should reflect your industry, as well as appeal to potential customers. 

If you can, incorporate photos of your product into your white paper design. Product photos reinforce how and why people use your product. In addition, screenshots of digital products give your audience a sneak peek at what they can expect. 

4. Create visual elements to make information memorable

Make use of highlighting and callout boxes to bring attention to the most important parts of your white paper, so that even those readers who are just skimming the document will understand the main ideas and what steps to take next. For a series of important points, you can create icons specific to your white paper design as a way to flag things a reader should pay attention to. 

Another way to bring each page to life is by using background images and colors, which create interest and provide continuity throughout your B2B SaaS white paper. 

Since the eye is drawn to images and graphics before text, it’s a good idea to complement or replace written statistics with graphs and charts that will grab your audience’s attention. An infographic is also a great way to break up large blocks of text and dense statistics. These visual cues make it easier to remember the information in your white paper.  

5. Use calls to action strategically throughout your white paper

Give your audience opportunities to engage further with your business by providing calls to action (CTAs) in relevant places in your B2B SaaS white paper. For example, any time you present your product as a solution to a problem, consider including a CTA to encourage the reader to find out more, get on a mailing list, schedule a demo or talk to a sales rep.

At the end of your white paper, include a boilerplate about your company, as well as a strong CTA to get in touch with. You can also use the opportunity to pitch your company in a more overt way than you would within the body of the white paper. 

Extra white paper design tips

When you begin to plan your white paper design:

  • Keep your audience in mind: your design should always be informed by your audience’s preferences (37% of B2B buyers find that content marketing assets are “not always informative or entertaining” and we want to avoid this)

  • Incorporate your branding: by adding your branding to your white paper design, you reinforce the idea that your company is responsible for the insights it contains

When you format the body text:

  • Use large font and a highly readable typeface: decorative fonts may be used for headings and accents, but your white paper’s main text should be large and easy to read to minimize reader strain

  • Stick with a single-column layout: it can be difficult to read a multi-column PDF on a mobile device. While it is easy to assume that white papers will only be read on larger screens, 59% of web traffic comes from mobile devices, making it wise to optimize for mobile just in case

  • Look for stray single lines at the top or bottom of a page: make sure that any paragraphs that are split across multiple pages include at least two lines on each page, as single lines can look awkward

  • Turn off auto-hyphenation: avoid auto-hyphenation features, as they can add hyphens in unnatural places 

When you format the document as a whole:

  • Break up long blocks of text: use graphics, sidebars and other standalone side elements (such as emphasized quotes) to break up your main text

  • Add plenty of white space: incorporate white space whenever possible to prevent your white paper from feeling too cluttered or overwhelming

  • Use high-contrast text colors: ensure that all text contrasts its background, as this makes the text more readable and reduces eye strain

  • Highlight key metrics and quotes: infographics and standalone side elements should be used to emphasize key information, especially since they stand out more than body text when readers skim through the document

  • Ensure that all formatting is consistent: check that each type of text (for example, plain text, headings, quotes, etc.) are formatted consistently throughout the whole document

  • Test that your layout is compatible with accessibility tools, including document readers: accessible white paper designs ensure that everyone can read your white paper

4 steps to a knock-out white paper design

Your white paper design should be at the forefront of your mind from the moment you begin to plan your white paper—long before the first word is typed. 

In this section, we’ll walk you through the process of creating a white paper design, from topic development to creating the layout. For an in-depth look at white paper creation, you can also check out our comprehensive guide on how to write a white paper.

4 steps to a knock-out white paper design

1. Choose and develop your white paper topic

To begin, carefully select and develop your white paper topic with your audience in mind. Consider how the topic will benefit your readers and what insights you can offer to address their needs or challenges. 

Conduct thorough research to learn more about your topic. As you research, you may find that your topic evolves slightly—this is completely okay. The important thing is to gather as many details which will aid your audience and help you to develop your arguments.

While you develop your topic, make note of any points that may be especially helpful to readers. This information will be useful when you later develop your white paper’s standalone design elements.

2. Outline your white paper

Your white paper’s outline is where the design process truly begins to take shape. 

First, you’ll need to determine which sections to include. We highly recommend adding all of the sections discussed above in “8 white paper design elements you need to include”. However, some white papers may need additional sections. For example, if your white paper is based on original research, you may need to include a methodology section.

As you outline, keep your target audience in mind. Remember, the white paper should support their needs. Avoid skimming over topics that your audience may not be familiar with.

Similarly, make note of any points that may require repetition or extra focus to understand. Later, you can add more design elements in those spots to reinforce points and catch readers’ attention.

3. Write your white paper’s text

With your outline in place, proceed to write the text of your white paper. Keep your audience at the forefront of your mind, focusing on what they need to know and how you can guide their understanding. 

As you write, certain quotes or metrics may jump out as especially important. If so, add them to your list of potential opportunities to incorporate standalone design elements.

4. Design your white paper

Once the text of your white paper is complete, it’s time to focus on the white paper design. Review the text to identify any opportunities to incorporate graphics, charts or standalone quotes you may have missed earlier.

Then, play around with incorporating these elements into each section that you identified so far. Your final design may not include every single element, but it is nevertheless helpful to see how they might fit together.

As you continue to edit your design, follow the guidelines outlined in the “White paper design best practices” section earlier. Also, pay particular attention to areas with dense blocks of text, considering how you can add visual elements to improve readability and engagement.

Your final product should ultimately be well-balanced, offering the reader’s eye a dynamic layout with opportunities to rest.

Top 5 white paper design services

Need help with a white paper design? You have a few options.

You can find plenty of white paper design examples and white paper templates online. Many of the templates even offer drag-and-drop functionality, making them extremely user-friendly. In other words, you don’t need to worry about your graphic design skills holding you back. 

You can also hire a company that offers a white paper design service. Below, we’ve outlined 5 options. 

Chittlesoft

Chittlesoft offers a white paper design service

Chittlesoft is a content writing and design agency. It specializes in the IT industry, so its team is familiar with creating layouts that convey technical information without overwhelming readers.

Services offered:

Layout and design

  • White papers
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Websites
  • Emails
  • Logos
  • Slide decks

Writing

  • White papers
  • Web copy
  • Blog posts
  • Emails
  • Newsletters
  • Social media posts and captions
  • Video scripts

Quick facts:

Pricing: available upon request

Form + Function Agency

Form + Function Agency offers a white paper design service

Form + Function Agency is an SEO and design agency that specializes in the tech and healthcare industries. It offers a wide range of services and can even help develop your brand identity alongside your white paper design if needed.

Services offered:

Design

  • White papers
  • eBooks
  • Web design
  • UX
  • Brand identity

SEO

  • Keyword research
  • Copywriting
  • Website refresh
  • Site audit
  • Link building

Quick facts:

Pricing: available upon request

X-Verity

X-Verity offers a white paper design service

X-Verity is a design agency. It offers several white paper design packages, so you can pick the option that best suits your needs.

Services offered:

Design and layout

  • White papers
  • Infographics
  • Logos
  • Flyers and brochures
  • Business cards
  • UI/UX
  • Web design

Quick facts:

Pricing: $120-290 for a white paper design

Brafton

Brafton offers a white paper design service

Brafton is a content marketing agency that offers extensive content marketing and strategy services. The agency both writes and designs white papers.

Services offered:

Content marketing

  • White paper writing and design
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • Blog posts
  • Video production

Strategy

  • SEO
  • Social media
  • YouTube
  • Email marketing
  • PPC advertisements

Quick facts:

  • Company size: 83 employees
  • Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  • Notable clients: Webex, Rosterfy, ViewSonic

Pricing: available upon request

Infobrandz

Infobrandz offers a white paper design service

Infobrandz is a graphic design agency. Its white paper design page showcases a wide range of white paper design examples, making it easier to determine if the agency is a good fit.

Services offered:

Design and layout

  • White papers
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • Display banners
  • Videos
  • Slide decks

Quick facts:

Pricing: available upon request

Strong white paper designs make a big difference

It takes a lot of work to create a good white paper design, but your design efforts can make a big impact. High-quality designs engage readers, help to develop your brand’s reputation and reinforce the insights that your white paper presents. By incorporating white paper design best practices into your white paper, you are ultimately left with a stronger final product. 

Need help writing your next white paper?

We’re up for the task! Our content writers are experts in writing B2B SaaS white papers. Check out our white paper writing services for more information.

White Paper vs Case Study: What’s the Difference?

See the difference between a white paper and a case study so you can determine which format is best for each marketing scenario.

If you want to create long-form text-based content that informs readers and showcases expertise, white papers and case studies are both great format options. However, you should consider whether a white paper vs case study would be best for your organization’s content marketing efforts.

After all, white papers and case studies serve distinct purposes in the buyer’s journey.

To make the most of your content, you’ll want to choose the format that aligns best with your goals. This can make all the difference in capturing your target audience’s attention and driving conversions.

Today, we’ll be diving deep into the differences between a white paper vs case study so you can figure out which format is best for each marketing scenario. 

In this post, we’ll cover the following topics:

What is a white paper vs case study? 

When it comes to a white paper vs case study, it’s important to know the difference. Simply put, a white paper is a marketing asset that discusses an industry-specific problem and provides a research-backed solution, while a case study showcases a customer’s successful application of your solution. 

A white paper aims to educate readers on a specific topic and offers in-depth information and insights. White papers are highly effective marketing tools, with 51% of B2B marketers reporting that this content format delivers some of their best results.

Check out our white paper writing services.

A case study, on the other hand, is written or video content that tells the story of how a customer is successfully using your solution. It typically starts by comparing the “before” state—what the challenges were before the customer started looking for a solution. Then it describes why the customer chose your solution and what the implementation process was like. And it finishes by describing the results the customer got by using your solution.

Like white papers, case studies are very effective: for the third year in a row, SaaS marketers ranked case studies as the #1 most effective marketing tactic to increase sales—ahead of SEO web content, blog posts, social media, paid ads and other tactics.

Check out our case study writing services.

What is the purpose of a white paper vs case study?

White papers aim to provide thought leadership and offer solutions that position your company as an industry authority. They are often used to influence decisions by presenting compelling arguments supported by data and analysis.

Case studies primarily aim to demonstrate the practical application of a product or service by showcasing real-life success stories. They provide social proof and instill confidence by showcasing how a particular product can lead to positive results.

Who is the target audience for a white paper vs case study?

White papers are typically targeted towards decision-makers and stakeholders who are seeking in-depth insights to inform strategic decisions. They appeal to individuals who are actively researching complex problems and want to learn about innovative approaches.

Case studies, on the other hand, are geared towards prospects who are looking for evidence that a product is effective. They resonate with potential buyers who are looking for real-world success stories to help evaluate the feasibility of implementing a particular solution within their own organization.

What are the key characteristics and structure of a white paper vs case study?

White papers are characterized by their comprehensive research, authoritative tone and formal structure. They rely heavily on data, statistics and expert opinions to support their arguments and conclusions. White papers frequently include sections such as an executive summary, introduction, problem statement, methodology, findings, analysis, conclusion and recommendations.

Find out how to write a white paper in 10 steps [plus 5 examples]

On the other hand, case studies are more focused on storytelling and real-life examples. They often follow a narrative structure, starting with an introduction to the customer or company profile. They then outline the problem faced, describe the solution implemented and highlight the results achieved. Case studies might include quotes, testimonials and metrics to substantiate the success story and provide credibility.

Check out the 9 steps for writing a case study [plus 34 examples]

White paper vs case study: best practices

Regardless of whether you opt for a case study vs white paper, it’s a good idea to incorporate best practices. After all, they can maximize the impact of your content.

When creating white papers, consider the following best practices:

  1. Add a table of contents to set readers’ expectations.
  2. Use visuals, charts and graphs to enhance readability.
  3. Incorporate real-world examples to illustrate key points and add credibility.
  4. Leverage thought-provoking questions to engage readers.
  5. Include actionable insights and practical recommendations that readers can implement in their own strategies.

For case studies, keep these best practices in mind:

  1. Select compelling success stories that reflect your target audience’s situation.
  2. Focus on the customer’s journey, discussing the challenges they faced, the implemented solution and the final outcome.
  3. Use real data and metrics to quantify the results achieved.
  4. Incorporate quotes to add authenticity.
  5. Keep the narrative concise and engaging, highlighting key takeaways.

White paper vs case study: key differences

It’s important to understand the differences between a white paper vs case study when choosing which to create. To clarify the topic, take a look at the fundamental differences:

Key differences between a white paper and a case study

How to choose between a white paper vs case study

Before you create a white paper vs case study, it’s important to think about which format will best help you meet your content marketing goals. Below, we’ll discuss key elements to consider and provide insights to help you make an informed decision.

Factors to consider based on business goals

When you’re thinking about whether to create a white paper vs case study, consider the following factors:

  • Objective: determine if you want your content to serve thought leadership, lead generation or social proof purposes
  • Buyer’s journey: think about what stage of the buyer’s journey you need content for—white papers are best for the Awareness stage, while case studies are best for the Consideration and Decision stages
  • Existing content marketing assets: consider how your white paper or case study will fit in with your existing content marketing assets 
  • Your competitive landscape: consider how your competitors are using white papers vs case studies
  • Content repurposing: determine how you might repurpose content across different channels and formats, maximizing the reach and impact of your content efforts

Matching content format with audience expectations

When you create a white paper vs case study, you need to ensure that your content meets audience expectations. To do so, you’ll need to understand your audience’s preferences and behaviors. That way, you can make sure that your chosen format resonates effectively. 

By aligning your content format with what your audience values most—whether that’s data-driven analysis or real-world success stories—you can create content that engages, informs and ultimately drives action.

So, which content format should you pick?

In the battle of white paper vs case study, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Both formats are valuable B2B marketing tools, offering unique benefits and advantages. By selecting the one that best fits your goals, you can refine your content marketing efforts and drive meaningful results.

Need help with your case studies or white papers?

At Uplift Content, we offer both case study writing services and white paper writing services. Regardless of which format you settle on, our B2B SaaS writers will create high-quality marketing content that supports your business.

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