Re: What are white papers?

Subject: Re: What are white papers?
From: Ad absurdum per aspera <JTCHEW -at- LBL -dot- GOV>
Date: Thu, 8 Sep 1994 12:53:41 -0800

> I would appreciate any information you could give me on
>"white papers." Are they marketing documents?

They are generally understood to be somewhat objective
documents that present facts, analysis, and perhaps a
conclusion. Plainly, though, you wouldn't be publishing one
if it didn't support your position -- the original usage
was diplomatic and referred to explanations and justifi-
cations of a government's acts or policies -- so in that
sense they have a marketing purpose.

>Is the tone supposed to be scientific or conversational?

Usually a bit on the formal side, though not ornately or
archaically so. The ones I work on from time to time
usually address scientific or technical issues for the
benefit of at least a slightly technical audience (it's
amazing what a Congressman, aided by semi-technical staff,
can digest when someone's proposed that his subcommittee
spend or not spend a couple billion and look like heroes
or goats as a result), so that's how they sound.

> How long are they?

As long as they need to be. When I work on one, the page
count usually seems to come out in the low two digits.

> Who reads them?

Whoever you send them to (being written for a purpose and
sent to the distribution of your choice, this varies).

Good luck,
"Just another personal opinion from the People's Republic of Berkeley"
Disclaimer: Even if my employer had a position on the subject,
I probably wouldn't be the one stating it on their behalf.

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