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View of Georgetown campus from the Virginia side of the Potomac

View of Georgetown campus from the Virginia side of the Potomac

Research Methods : White Papers

Elements of a White Paper

Common Types of White Papers

 Type  Purpose
 Position  Paper   Explains and advocates a standard, trend, or technology. Explains  why  this standard is important to the potential customer. 
 Business  Benefits   Explains why potential customers need or want the product. 
 Competitive   Review   Positions the product and differentiates it from competitors. 
 Evaluator’s  Guide   Provides a thorough explanation of the product’s features and  functionality. 


Length: White papers can be from 4 to 24 (or more) pages long. They are most often around 10 pages. 

Tone: Most white papers take an authoritative tone. Some contain a marketing “spin” to boost a certain service, trend, product, or technology. 

*Adapted from Gordon, M. & Graham, G. (2003). The art of the white paper. Retrieved from:

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