Writing a whitepaper is easy What you must first decide is whether a whitepaper the right solution to your problem or not. You should know what you want to talk about. Only if you have a certain level of expertise in the area, can you succeed in telling people about it in detail.
Setting the right objective
Before you start writing one, ask yourself that why are you writing it? Is it to demonstrate your knowledge to the world about a certain technical issue/trend, or to influence your prospective customer’s purchase decision about your product? The reasons could be numerous. But it should be absolutely clear in your mind. Unless you know the objective of writing it, the right tone of voice will never come and it will not generate the desired effect on the reader.
Target your audience
Your audience will read your paper only if it has some value. You are not writing to bore them. Would the content of the paper give the reader something to chew on? Would he be excited to know about the technology/product you are writing about? Does the reader really care about the topic? It would help if you could do a small research to find out the need of the paper. Once you are sure that there is a need for the whitepaper, think about the questions that are generally raised in that area. Will your paper answer/discuss them? Would it give the reader something to take home?
Now that you are clear about the topic of the paper, its objective and the target audience, you need to take a deep breath and start writing it. Remember that your paper should contain something new and worthwhile. It should make sense in the mind of the reader.
Making a framework
First, make a rough draft of all the content you need to cover in the paper. You don’t have to write all that you know in just one paper. Cover only one topic at a time, so that the message in the paper is singular and the reader does not get confused. Once you are ready with the framework of the paper, you should go through it carefully to see that the thought sequence is correct. Do your arguments follow the logical way of reasoning? If yes, then you are ready to go on to the next step of writing, lest you need to structure it to suit your audience. If you are facing difficulty doing this, then read the already published articles/papers in your subject and see how your competitors have framed it. Take the best of all worlds and structure your article. But, do not copy anybody – use your own flow of thought, as you know the best about what you are writing.
Now, you can start writing the main content of your paper!
Title is the most important part so do not make it generic. It should mention exactly what you are talking about. You can also give a short sub-title to give the reader a benefit to go ahead and read it. For instance, “Undisclosed techniques of digital watermarking – robust and flexible ways to secure your critical digital data.”
The introduction/abstract should exactly give out what is to follow. Do not summarize your index of content here. Give a brief outline of the topic and intent of writing the whitepaper. You can also write about who the whitepaper is written for. Remember this is what will urge the reader to go on. If you are not confident about what you should write here, then wait and write the intro at the end of the paper. It is often a good idea, as by the time you reach the end you get a clear idea of what it should be.
The main content Being the subject matter expert you would know about the latest trends and frame your content appropriately. Your matter should be fresh as nobody reads an old newspaper.
Divide your writing in sections. Give headlines and sub-heads. Highlight/bold the sequence of thought, so that even if a person just scans through your paper, he gets a perfect idea of what it is about. Be clear, concise and correct about what you write. Do not make your paragraphs too long. Put some most important thoughts in highlighted boxes.
The writing style
Following correct English and grammar usage is a requisite. If you have problems with it then take professional help. Incorrect language is the biggest turn-off for an intelligent reader. It shows that you are unprofessional in your approach – especially when you are trying to sell your product through the whitepaper. Follow the active and positive style of writing. Don’t be too complex in your writing. It should be written keeping an intelligent reader in mind who already has a certain idea about the subject, but is not a scientist. If you use technical terms, then please be kind enough to explain them once when you use them for the first time in the document.
Write what you want to write about While writing for the web, you should not fill in stuff which is not directly related to the topic. It makes sense to identify some keywords and use them constantly throughout your writing. This would also help your paper rank high on the search engines.
Give visual relief
The paper should not be a line of ants walking after the other. Be imaginative and give some visual relief through the use of landscape contouring, i.e., using sections, headings, sub-headings, diagrams, bulleted/numbered lists in the whitepaper. Illustrate with examples, give diagrams/charts – use these as an aid to demonstrate your point. Don’t shy away from using illustrations – they make it easier for the reader to understand. Use as many as possible – nobody is interested in a flat land, try to make your paper attractive, even if it’s boring technical discussion.
Conclude with credibility
Oftentimes, people use similar content for the introduction as well as conclusion. The beginning and the end of a story could never be the same. Frame your conclusion based on what has happened in middle of the story. Give the reader a thought to take home.
Always give references/sources of the data used from elsewhere and provide copyright information and your own contact information.
In the end, thoroughly proofread what you have written. Move sections to make the sequence of thought logical if required. Ask a friend to critically examine it. Once you are done with the first cut, give your brain some rest and let the document lie for a while. You are sure to refine it in a much better way while reading it for the second time. Finally, edit it. Cut out all the irrelevant words/sections. A whitepaper does not have to be 10+ pages long. It should just give out your message powerfully.
Go ahead now, select your topic, and start writing!