White Paper

A white paper is a written report that attempts to educate the reader about a complex topic. It presents well-researched factual information in an easy-to-understand manner while also offering the issuing organization's social, political, or business position on the subject. First used by government organizations, businesses in the IT industry have adopted the term for reports that explain new and emerging technologies and products like artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

White papers are a common part of technology product marketing. A business may commission a white paper to outline the problem their product is meant to solve; other white papers may instead explain how a new technology operates while outlining its advantages over other technologies. Even when used as a marketing device, a white paper should still be backed by reliable research and present its findings academically.

A white paper is generally not a short document — most are at least 5 to 10 pages. Despite the name "white paper," they're often colorful, well-designed digital documents. They will use illustrations and charts to help the reader understand the findings and position of the white paper's author. They are often distributed as web pages or PDF documents.

Updated November 7, 2022

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