Re: What are white papers?

Subject: Re: What are white papers?
From: Elna -dot- Tymes -at- SYNTEX -dot- COM
Date: Thu, 8 Sep 1994 13:40:21 PDT

In article <TECHWR-L%94090810315956 -at- VM1 -dot- UCC -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU> (Sue McCullough),

> I would appreciate any information you could give me on "white papers."
> Are they marketing documents? Is the tone supposed to be scientific or
> conversational? How long are they? Who reads them?
> Thanks in advance,

A "white paper" is a somewhat academic or philosophical discussion of a
technological approach, or a point of view, or a method of handling something,
etc. Its purpose is to provide some background for a product or service. For
instance, my company has a "white paper" about our philosophy of software
support provided by things related to documentation and training. I've
written white papers describing the reasoning behind T1 communication, the
technical nature and characteristics of a certain community of users, the
justification for a certain approach to imaging, and a few others. White
papers don't usually go to what we normally consider as users; more often they
go to the people who are thinking about buying multiple copies of a product for
their company, or who have to justify spending a lot of money on a piece of

Like any piece of documentation, you need to define for yourself who the user
is going to be, and then direct what's said at that audience. Insofar as
marketing documents are carefully directed (or at least they're supposed to
be), a white paper qualifies as a marketing document. However, these days one
also winds up marketing services or products within a company, so your white
paper may also be an internal document designed to educate other parts of
the same company.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems

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