White papers can be a valuable tool for building thought leadership and attracting sales leads. They offer you the opportunity to really dig deep into a study or trend.
But like any longer document, white papers run the risk of being dry.
Nobody likes reading a wall of text.
How can you create an engaging white paper? The simple answer is: data visualization.
Design can have a big impact on how your white paper is received.
Engaging data visualizations set your content apart from competitors and make your information easier to understand. This will help establish your thought leadership.
Although the information in your white papers is important, you can also easily lose your readers with a dense wall of text. That’s why visual communication is integral.
Why you should use data visualization in your white papers:
- Making data more engaging and digestible
- Telling a story within the data
- Highlighting important parts of the data
- Identifying trends
The information data that you provide in your white paper can be visualized in many different ways:
- and more.
Here is how to visualize information in your white papers:
1. Create a summary graphic highlighting key points from a section
You don’t want your white paper to rely solely on words. Your readers may miss out on important information because of the lack of visuals.
The benefits of using visuals is: decreasing learning time, improving comprehension, and increasing retention. Almost 65% of information is retained with visuals, meanwhile 10-20 percent with words.
An easy way to summarize your information visually is by creating an infographic. You don’t necessarily need to summarize the entire white paper, but you can create infographics to summarize sections of your white paper.
Read More: How to Summarize Information Visually
Creating an infographic within your white paper takes your page from looking like a block of endless text to a section that has a quick visually appealing summary. Here is an example of a page with a block of text:
But just by adding a few icons:
Then using correct text hierarchy, you can make the information a lot easier to read:
Easily replace a wall of text in your white paper by transforming the information into an infographic. Your readers can retain the same amount of information in less time with the addition of visuals:
You can see that infographic in action on page four of this white paper template:
You can use an infographic to your advantage to highlight important information and appeal to your audience. This will also persuade them to read the rest of your white paper.
2. Use a chart to highlight key data, interesting trends and more
The data that you incorporate into your white paper may not always be easy to understand.
Using charts and diagrams to bring out your data in a visual way, brings more clarity to your readers. You can also include case studies for persuasion in the form of charts.
Marketers can create white papers to share data, industry trends, or results from a study. Like in data visualization examples such as the one below:
Your white paper probably isn’t the time to try to sell something–it’s meant as a valuable resource to position your brand in your industry.
Some types of charts are:
- Bar charts
- Line charts
- Pie charts
- Bubble charts
- Stacked bar charts
- Word clouds
Would you rather your data looked like this?…
Or like this?
Pro Tip: Easily upload a CSV file with one click from Excel into Venngage’s chart tool:
After visualizing your data on Venngage you can add it to your white paper so it adds to the appeal of your white paper:
Here is another bar graph example in a white paper:
This pie chart helps readers understand the data provided more easily:
Charts are a great way to enhance the comprehension of your data, strengthen the persuasiveness behind your numbers, and make key data more memorable.
3. Use visual cues to draw attention to important data
Designers use visual cues to direct the eye to important points on a page. Visual cues help to tell a story within the data of your white paper.
It takes 0.05 seconds for people to form an opinion about your website. The same idea can be applied to your white paper. You have little time to capture the attention of your audience. So how can you keep your audience for longer?
Whether it’s the background color of your white paper, shapes, the amount of text, font and symbols, you can use visual cues to enhance the information you’re displaying.
Some common types of visual cues include:
- Visual paths
- Bold text
A visual path is a technique to take the viewer’s gaze to a specific element using arrows.
Here is a graph without any visual paths:
Here is the same graph with visual cues. The red circle and arrow are examples of using a visual path and highlight particular points in the line graph.
Using color is a technique to set the mood and appeal to the emotions of your audience.You can also use bold and bright colors to make important information stand out.
Here is an example of a white paper that doesn’t use color:
Look at how the same white paper transforms when color is added. It not only adds personality but it informs your readers on what they should pay attention to:
Icons help to break up text and to emphasize important information in your white paper. An arrow and box, for example, help to communicate growth or decline and direct your eyes to what to focus on.
Bold text has more of an impact than you may realize. It allows your words to jump out of your page into the reader’s eyes.
In the example below you can see how the bold text directs the reader to what’s most important on the page so that they’re not lost in the words:
The contact information is also bolded at the bottom to highlight it as an important addition of the page.
5. Show relationships and connect ideas with a mind map
A mind map can be used to visualize the relationship between ideas. They’re great for project planning, stakeholder persuasion, and brainstorming with your team.
Governments and non profit organizations could use mind maps to showcase the different relationships in the various projects they may be working on.
Executives can use mind maps to align their teams around a collective vision and breakdown the individual workflows involved.
Marketers can use mind maps to create a marketing strategy, social media campaigns, and competitor research:
If you’re going to use a mind map in your white paper you want to make sure it looks professional.
The example below demonstrates all the aspects of a mind mind that you want to avoid, it’s an eye sore. The words are small, the lines linking the words are too long and stretched out, and the layout is not organized:
The mind map below does a good job explaining what corporate communication is. Instead of using sentences to explain each part, a mind map is used to visualize it. Using color this mind map keeps it simple and evenly distributes each part:
If you want to create a more complex mind map, the mind map below is a great example. It uses colors and lines in an organized way. It also uses size to indicate hierarchy:
And here is what it looks like to use the mind map editor on the Venngage tool:
6. Simplify complex processes or flows with visuals & icons
Often, the purpose of your white paper will be to present a problem and a solution. That can come with having to explain complex processes that may be hard to follow.
These processes might come with multiple options with different levels of complexities, time restraints, costs and risks. A process infographic visualizes each step in the process. This can make it easier for people to understand, compare and evaluate the steps in a process.
It outlines the manner in which you will reach a solution step-by-step so that it is straightforward and not overcomplicated.
White papers can often come with an overload of information. Your job is to try to keep it as logical as possible so not to confuse or overwhelm your readers. Flow charts are another way to help visualize processes that may be difficult to follow.
When we say use a flow chart, we don’t mean this:
Your flow chart should help to simplify decision making and set your readers on the right track.
Flow charts can be used to:
- Break down steps or inputs in a process
- Explain the different risks involved in your proposed solution
- Show the different options or paths you can take in a process
- Outline a journey or story
Here is an example of a flow chart in a white paper that shows how parts make a whole:
You can use alternating colors to guide the eyes of your readers along the flow chart. Here is another example of a flow chart used in a white paper:
This white paper example uses icons to visualize a process:
7. Use a timeline infographic to outline a plan
Let’s say your white paper includes the future direction and long term goals of your organization. You can use a timeline infographic to outline possible launch plans that you may have for product releases for example.
A timeline can visually summarize a series of events you have planned. This could be in the form of a launch plan, proposed activities, or recommended solutions.
Read More: Timeline Template Examples and Design Tips
You can spice up your timeline infographic with colors, icons, and illustrations. Using these elements lets you highlight important facts, statistics, and information.
The timeline below illustrates all the essential elements of a good timeline infographic: dates, headers, and brief descriptions.
Pro Tip: Use a professional template to have your readers impressed with what you have to offer.
8. Use cohesive visual branding
You shouldn’t just slap on visuals for the sake of it, it should be intentional and well planned.
A strong visual brand is important for both internal and external communication for all of your marketing. In order to turn your white paper into a lead magnet, cohesive branding leaves an impact on your reader. It also subtly promotes your white paper without being too salesy.
Using Venngage’s Brand Kit, you can easily save your logos, brand color palettes, and fonts into your white paper design:
You can easily change the color palette of your design by clicking on one of the palettes in your Brand Kit:
Here is an example of a white paper that uses its branding in an interesting way:
Pro Tip: Apply your branding to your white paper using Venngage Brand Kit. You can easily apply fonts, logos, and color palettes in just one click!
You can also create your own custom illustrations or use illustrations from our icons:
Pro Tip: Type “gradients” in the icon search bar to quickly find all of our gradient icons and bring your white paper to life.
Ready to create your visual white paper?
Your white paper will always be enhanced when you add visuals. The examples above give you a clear direction with how to leave an impact on your readers visually within your white paper.
You can use infographics, diagrams, charts, mind maps, and illustrations to turn your white paper from being a boring formal document, to one that attracts the best leads for your business.
White paper templates are fully customizable white paper templates available for use on Venngage.
- Click on the template you like; some are free, some are paid.
- You’ll enter our simple online editor to start customizing.
- Upgrade to download the white paper when done or share the link for free.
You might also be interested in some of these helpful design guides: