A white paper is generally defined as an authoritative report or guide that is intended to inform readers about a complex issue, including the author’s perspective on the topics covered. White papers typically rely upon expert knowledge and research in support of a solution or recommendation.
White papers aren’t the same as an article that is published in a scientific journal, heavy with specific jargon, methods and statistical analyses. Neither are white papers sales brochures that pitch the features and benefits of a product or service.
A well-written white paper must often distill complicated concepts into an informative narrative that the average reader can understand while ensuring that stated arguments and their conclusions are based in objective sources of evidence. Achieving this balance of facts and simplicity can provide a powerful communication tool for both technical and non-technical customers. Consider the following example of a white paper that supports other communications on a new medical device.