Are you worried that your white papers aren’t getting the attention they deserve?
In the business world, a white paper means an in-depth informational report that explains a complex concept or provides a persuasive solution to a problem.
For example, a marketing white paper could promote and explain a particular strategy for increasing blog traffic. Or a human resources white paper could
White papers can be extremely valuable documents to educate your stakeholders and prospective customers–when it’s interesting enough to actually read.
Unfortunately, designing a white paper can seem like a lot to take on if you’re not much of a designer. That’s why it’s often a safer bet to start with a template.
Not only will you save resources by doing it yourself, you’ll also gain the confidence of being able to create engaging, highly informative reports yourself. Not a bad skill to have!
Here are 10 white paper examples and design tips to set you on the right path.
1. Use bright color accents to create a hierarchy of information
Color isn’t just for decoration. A boldly colored header can make the beginning of a new section clear, while a bright arrow can direct the eye to an important point.
Look for places where you can add pops of color to your page design. Bold colors are one of this year’s biggest design trends and adding them can make your design look fresh and up to date.
In this white paper example, bold colors make the cover eye-catching, while the color accents throughout the pages categorize and emphasize information.
2. Highlight key takeaways to summarize the information in your white paper
White papers go in-deph into a topic, which is part of what makes them useful–but the fact is, most people probably won’t read the entire thing.
That’s why it’s a good idea to summarize the key information that people shouldn’t miss. You can draw attention to the takeaways. Take this white paper example that uses blue font to emphasize the key takeaways:
3. Make your page numbers stand out so your white paper is easy to scan
There’s a good chance readers are going to want to skip ahead to specific sections of your white paper that interest them. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure that your page numbers are easy to read.
You can make your page numbers pop by using a colored block as a background, and by using a bold font. Plus, using decorative fonts for small accents like this will give your white paper a unique design edge.
Take a look at the page numbers in this white paper:
4. Pick high quality photos with a consistent style
Try not to reach for the first cheesy stock photo you see–they’re not fooling anyone. Photo, icons and illustrations can play an important role in how effectively our white paper communicate your information.
Don’t just use images for decoration. Instead, use photos to illustrate important concepts, to make information easier to understand, and to convey a mood. For example, this white paper uses bright, colorful photos to engage and excite readers:
5. Pull key quotes and make them stand out
This is a tactic you see used a lot in magazines and news publications. Pull particularly impactful and persuasive quotes and make them stand out from the rest of the text.
You can emphasize quotes by using bigger font, or a different font from the rest of your body text. Not only will this draw readers’ eyes to the quotes, it also gives your page design more visual variation. This white paper example even uses a different color to really help them stand out:
6. Use icons as directional cues to emphasize and organize information
Directional cues are visual indicators that direct readers’ gaze in a specific direction. These visual indicators could be icons, arrows, lines, bolded text, and other things that attract the eye.
Icons pack the double-punch of both drawing the readers’ eye and of conveying meaning. For example, you could use icons to indicate section headers, to replace bullet points, and to illustrate steps in a process.
This white paper example uses icons as bullet points that illustrate each section:
7. Use a neutral color scheme for a sleek and modern white paper design
A lot of white papers introduce new technology or explain tech-based solutions to problems. A white paper design with a sleek, modern and minimalist feel will likely appeal to tech enthusiasts.
Pick a neutral background color like white or beige. Then, pick an accent color and create a color scheme using shades of that color.
You could also opt to simply stick to grey tones, like in this white paper example:
8. Use creative illustrations that reflect the theme of your white paper
Does your white paper cover seasonal strategies? Have you used a creative motif throughout your white paper to make it more engaging (for example, a fishing motif to “hook” new customers)?
Incorporate that theme into your white paper design! Look for icons that illustrate your theme and pick a color scheme that readers will associate with the season, industry, or products.
For example, this holiday design guide uses festive icons and a recognizable holoday color scheme for a fun and thematic design:
9. Use a variety of charts and graphs to communicate data clearly
It’s easy to want to fall back on standard bar graphs and pie charts. But looking at too many of the same types of graphs can make you go cross-eyed.
Vary the types of data visualizations you use based on the type of information. For example, use maps for geographical information, or use pictograms to compare population sizes. You could also use infographics to summarize important sections.
Whatever data visualization you choose, just make sure it’s a type that will make your data easier to understand, not more confusing.
10. Dedicate pages to particularly important points
The primary goal of your white paper should be to educate readers. But you also want to strike a balance between being informative and entertaining.
If there is a central point that you want readers to remember, you may want to dedicate an entire page to that one point and an accompanying image to help drive the message home.
Pages like this should be used sparingly. That being said, they can deliver some real impact to readers.
Take this white paper that dedicates a page to an evocative quote and photo:
Use these white paper examples to create a design that reflects your brand
Use these white paper examples as springboards for your own unique and brand-appropriate designs. Think about who your audience is and what their expectations will be. Then create a white paper design that will position your brand as the perfect response to their questions.
You might also be interested in some of these helpful design guides: