April 19th, 2018
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How to Avoid Information Overload in Your White Paper
A white paper is an essential tool for any business. Whether you use it to provide an in-depth analysis on a new piece of technology or want to create some buzz around a product, a white paper allows you to tackle a problem and provide the appropriate solution to your audience.
But it can be challenging to get the right balance between describing the issue at hand and presenting the right solution. Those who’ve ever written a white paper know how important it is to provide proper theoretical background before you add in your product as a fix. Your content needs to be convincing and research-backed, yet too much information can overload your readers and have them quit the paper before they learn about the solution.
So how do you avoid information overload without compromising the quality of your white paper? Here are a few tips that might help:
- Set Clear Goals and Communicate Them
It’s best to tell your readers right from the start what they’re in for when browsing your white paper. Use the introduction to give a concise description of the problem, and tease on how your solution can help fix it.
Remember, a white paper isn’t just a simple product or service pitch – you need to provide genuinely informative sections where readers can learn useful notions about the problem they are dealing with and trying to solve. Provide a short overview of the topics your paper will discuss.
- Stick with a Classic Format
A white paper is a fairly well-known piece of writing, so it’s best not to play around with the structure too much. Many white paper writers feel the need to add a few creative touches to make the content seem less formal and encourage engagement. While that’s perfectly fine, always keep in mind the final goal: readability.
- Keep It Short
That is, perhaps, one of the hardest things to keep in mind when writing a white paper. After all, there’s so much that you want to share with your readers. But it’s vital to keep your writing clear and short. Otherwise, you risk losing readers in a sea of overly-complex paragraphs and phrases.
Try to communicate your ideas as bluntly as possible. Also, don’t underestimate the power of examples. If you write an entire paragraph about a certain concept, follow it up with a practical example of how it unfolds in the real world. That is an excellent trick to keep your audience engaged and ensure that they understand what you’re talking about.
- Don’t Skip the Final Edit
Once you’re done with the writing part, read your text again with a critical eye. Anything that seems pointless, or doesn’t add value to the content of your white paper will need to go, so don’t be afraid to make some cuts.
Ask yourself if everything you’ve written is useful or relevant. Maybe one particular phrase is unnecessary, or you’ve used too many adjectives to describe something. Information overload can result even in the language you use, so be as critical as possible when you’re making the final edits to your paper.
- Leave the Abstract at the End, but Take It Seriously
The abstract is the summary of your white paper, so it’s best to delay writing it until the end, even after you’ve made some edits throughout the paper. Convey the general ideas of your text in the abstract, but without giving too much away just yet. Yes, it needs to be, in itself, an informative piece of writing, but your goals are also to encourage people to continue reading beyond that first section.
One Last Thing
Keep in mind the people who will end up reading your white paper. Create a short profile of the average reader by establishing their age, education, or even the industry in which they activate. It will be a lot easier to create a white paper once you know who you’re writing it for.