How to properly format a White Paper

GL Content Team Apr 27, 2015

A White Paper is an important document for and business – so it is essential that what you present is to the highest standard within your industry, anything less and you could end up harming your reputation rather than helping it.
A white paper is somewhere between a marketing piece and an academic essay. It’s not a brochure, so it shouldn’t be glossy and vibrant, but it has got to be more visually appealing than a report turned out of Word. Here are a few rules to follow when formatting your White Paper.

Keep things short & sweet
Typically, each line of content should contain 12 words, or about 60 – 66 characters, this ensures easy reading.

Avoid sloppy page breaks
Why would anyone start a major new section at the very bottom of a page, with only a line or two of text following? There’s nothing “wrong” with leaving a little white space at the end of a major section. Just start the new section on a new page.
That little fix up costs nothing but a few seconds of thought. But it gives readers a momentary break, and helps them see the structure of the paper.

Wall of Grey
A white paper formatted as a wall of grey text won’t engross anyone. Avoid long paragraphs of constant text. Instead, use “text organisers” to break up the content. Bullet pointd, boxes, shading, sidebars, callouts are all visual breaks that can help emphasise the central message of each page and provide some welcome eye relief.

Don’t make your pages too busy
Too much colour, too many graphics can distract your reader. Choose the most commanding and suitable graphic for your page.

Ultimately, the design of your white paper should enhance the content, not undermine it.