Talk:White paper

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How to write a White Paper[edit]

I was hoping to find out how to write a white paper for various B-School events. Sample formats would be useful. Provide us with some award winning papers from well known B-Schools accross the globe

Commercial White Papers[edit]

This is not a completely accurate or fair discussion of the use of white papers commercially. In my engineering company, we sometimes use white papers to explore challenging technical issues and to document design recommendations. After product design is complete, the white paper serves as a record of how we arrived at some particular design decision. We also see them in use similarly by military procurement activities--they are used to coordinate and communicate design discussions, often between multiple organizations, on some of the more complex or contentious technical aspects of a program.

- 14:33, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

You have a point. In fact, it may be worthwhile to find a couple of sources that substantiate your claims and then add this information to the article. However, at a minimum I can say with honesty that a majority of the documents that I encounter in my field (e.g. technology) that purport to be white papers are thinly-veiled, manipulative attempts at marketing. At the least your average procurement officer should be wary of seeking useful information about buying technology from a whitepaper produced by a company that makes that technology. It seems to me that this should be common sense, however it surprises me the number of people whom I meet that don't seem to understand this sort of thing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:16, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

Removed the NBC example (Japan) - It is NOT a white paper. Also added more information about the three types of business papers. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:57, 6 September 2008 (UTC)


I've Commonwealthised the spelling on the page. It had been a bit of a mixed bag but as the term derives exclusively from British English I reckon that this is fair enough in accordance with WP:MOS Jimp 14:57, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

White paper of 1939 - reference deleted[edit]

"The most famous, or infamous, such government White Paper was the British White Paper of 1939 which strictly limited Jewish immigration to Britain's Palestine Mandate before, during, and after the Nazi Holocaust. The disastrous effect of the White Paper policy on refugees led to a general revolt by the Jewish community and a partition of the country."

This paragraph was added by User:Scott Adler 3 October 2006. It was a reference to another Wiki article White Paper of 1939. I have deleted this paragraph for the following reasons:

A) There is no such thing as "The British White Paper of 1939". White Papers are issued on myriad topics and are called "White Paper on (subject)". The White Paper of 1939 and the link to the document at Yale do not give a correct title; the author clearly does not know the title.

B) To describe the White Paper (I'm guessing it was called the White Paper on Palestine) as the "most famous, or infamous, such government White Paper" is pure POV and can not be substantiated. It may well be the most famous to students of the history of Palestine, but otherwise is not particularly well-known, in the UK (which is what counts, since government White Papers are issued to describe British government policy) and I suspect elsewhere.

Emeraude 15:02, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

Link added to top of page[edit]

I added a link to an article about the paper entitled: Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society or "The White Paper". Please click on the link for further information, but this research paper, released in 1966, was the basis of modern EMS and ambulance standards in the United States. The paper is commonly known as the white paper and many people may be looking for it here. Scope2776 09:31, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

I'm having trouble understanding why unregistered users are removing the link. Please discuss your problems and suggestions here. Maybe we can incorporate the link in another part of the article? Scope2776 20:14, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

Non-government, Non-commercial White Papers[edit]

There are more than just two types of white papers. White papers are commonly used by non-profit organizations to present information in a way that can be very effective in influencing policy decisions. The most influential white papers are collaborations by representatives of multiple organizations. Typically, mid-level agency personnel can not participate but often welcome (even contribute unofficially) their production. While I am familiar with white papers only within the environmental field, I suspect they are no less common in the arena of social services and education. I would be interested to read more about this type of white paper. Garee 04:04, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. Also within the open source community white papers are commonly used to propagate new technologies/methodical/risk within and outwards of a community. Making a compelling case for a technology/risk to advertise the issue and as a first step toward defining changes. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:58, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Business White Paper Examples[edit]

I didn't want to add this to the actual page all willy-nilly cause mods usually yell at me, but maybe someone else could incorporate it? Steelcase, the office equipment manufacturer, has a bunch of useful white papers on its site to help people design and equip offices for optimal comfort and productivity. See and click on Knowledge and Design, and then take a look at any of the case studies, survey reports, articles, or papers for good examples of white papers in many of their possible forms. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:55, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

I removed the Japan example from NBC because it was NOT a white paper. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:49, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Removal of non-notable self published book references[edit]

Please either source this book to some WP:RS that says it's notable, or the section will continue to be removed. The quoted book appears to be a non-notable self published publication, which does not meet WP:RS or deserving of its own section. Anonymous IPs reverting edits without comment will not help this book or its website gain any credibility or longevity in this article. Flowanda | Talk 02:28, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

The fact is, there are NO commercially published books exclusively on white papers that I have been able to find in 7 years of trying. The Stelzner book is a worthwhile reference; it is modern, thorough, balanced, and based on the author's hands-on experience of many years of writing white papers for American corporations. I have reviewed this book and found it useful. My review originally appeared online on September 19, 2006 at, where it has now passed into the paying-members-only archives. You can find it reprinted on my website here...

There is a small circle of practitioners seeking to advance the best practices in writing white papers; Mike Stelzner is at the center of this group. Beyond writing this book, he sponsors the world's largest forum devoted to white papers, he has taken industry surveys encompassing many hundreds of writers of white papers, and he regularly offers teleclasses on various aspects of writing white papers. Naturally enough, he is trying to sell his book, but in the absence of anything more substantial, I feel that it is appropriate for Wikipedia to reference it. To remove this reference will not serve the visitors to this article, who are likely to be quite hungry for help. Careful editor (talk) 15:06, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

No information is preferred over poorly sourced information. An article on Mike Stelzner was deleted and his information repeatedly deleted from this article based on non notability and failure of WP:RS. However, there has been an external link to Stelzner's site for some time, but efforts to turn this article into a Stelzner article will continue to fail. Your site is completely non-notable as a source or external link, and it appears you are trying to spam the talk page with links and information that fail the main article space. Flowanda | Talk 20:31, 1 September 2008 (UTC)


Here's your proof that the book Writing White Papers is a notable source:

"It's already a classic in the business and technical writing world, and an essential inclusion on any writer's shelf."

Other reviews from notable authors:

This is a book that is commercially available in any bookstore. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:41, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

One last thing, I did not see ANY link to the book site on the page. You simply removed the entire production section because it mentioned the title of his book. At least ad back that section. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:51, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

BTW Flowada, according to WikiPedia standards, "it is best to explain how it is being used inappropriately, rather than simply point out that the source is self-published." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:47, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

You are quoting a non-notable blog and non-notable reviews about a book that seems to best available from a non-notable sales-letter webpage featured on a non-notable author's website/blog whose "article" on white paper writing has been included in the external links section for some time. The detailed content you refer to was removed because it was poorly sourced to the same self-published book with no demonstrated authority or notability beyond persistent edits to this article.
I believe I have been extraordinarily clear about the non-notability of these edits -- there are no published references/quotes from this author or this book in sources meeting WP:RS and no mentions beyond PR or self-generated additions to non-notable websites. I have been trying to follow editing guidelines that encourage discussion of disputed edits rather than revert wars, but months of editing the same content is ridiculous.
And please note that the burden is on you to show notability and verifiability of the content you continue to readd, restore or revert without discussion unless forced as you were in this case.
And since you did not again show any evidence of notability, I will again remove the content. If you have issues with my edits, please feel free to seek help at WP:3RR, WP:RSN or WP:ANI or WP:3O so we can solve this issue once and for all. Flowanda | Talk 07:02, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Flowanda, I am not sure what qualifies as notable in your "book." But here are some more:

ForeWard Magazine (Leading publication on books): Journal of Technical Communication (book review): Midwest book review:

The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Maybe you should call your local bookstore and see if they have it in stock.

Because the book is the industry standard (and has been reviewed by 100s of sources), I think there is nothing unnotable about it. You just seem to have issue with the fact that it is independently published. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:22, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

As a writer, I can tell you that 'Writing White Papers,' is widely understood as the industry sourcebook on WPs. Here's a list of libraries that carry that book: —Preceding unsigned comment added by DawnTea2 (talkcontribs) 17:30, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

I added the book and a references section to the main article. I'm not editing based on my standards, but those established at WP:V and WP:RS, neither of which the book seems to meet.
Please note that related website and white paper example links and content have been removed by several other editors as well and reverted or restored without comment or discussion.
There are no independent sources calling this year-old book an industry standard, the reviews listed above are either unavailable or just short mentions, and there are no significant coverage or references in mainstream media or trade press about the book or its author.
Anyone purchasing an ISBN will have his book show up in Amazon, etc., and the book is not in stock at any of stores in the 5 or so zipcodes I checked.
The section about "production" seems to be how-to info (which Wikipedia is not) and structure related only to this particular book and not white papers in general. Flowanda | Talk 23:59, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

The book is on a very specialized topic. This means it won't be found in traditional review sources. Many universities use it as source material as well. See —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:16, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Um, excuse me, but this is NOT a white paper:

If Japan can... Why can't we? (1980), introducing the methods of W. Edwards Deming to American managers. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:54, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Removal of non-notable commercial white papers[edit]

The white paper on white papers has been published since 2002 and according to Amazon, Michael's book was released in 2007. I think it is safe to say that it is not a summary of a book. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:54, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

The white paper on white papers by michael stelzner is a summary of his book. Listing both is redundant. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Elco747 (talkcontribs) 07:35, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

A recently posted white paper on white papers called "Using knowledge successfully", was deleted by user talk as "irrelevant". This decision needs further clarification. There are several good reasons to include this white paper on white papers here. I found this white paper to be useful on the following grounds:

  • it is the only white paper on white papers I know of, that has been written from the corporate perspective. The main question it raises is not: "why and how should I write white papers to make a living?", but: "does our company need a white paper? and if so, what kind of white paper do we need, and how do we plan this project?"
  • it complies with the best quality standards for white papers
  • it reflects european business standards
  • its literature list gives a good overview of the scarcely available sources on the subject. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Esqjmbobkp (talkcontribs) 09:23, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
The website itself seems to have problems: the linked page requires registration to obtain a copy of the white paper, which makes it difficult to check the document or accessible to anyone who's not willing to exchange personal information for a copy of the document. The rest of the website seems to be in German, and there are very few results that help establish this website or document as the kind of added resource defined in WP:EL. Is this document quoted by any independent reliable sources? Flowanda | Talk 18:59, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

It appears that the page now includes a fair amount of information in english, including an interesting story on how Werner von Siemens apparently used the concept of white papers for his business in the 19th century. The registration form complies with regular B2B standards (company, name, email). The document seems to be too recent to have been quoted elsewhere. I found the information neutral and useful, as there is so little available on how to plan the production process of a white paper.

General Content[edit]

It would be useful to 'flesh out' the article in the following areas: (1) By highlighting important features of white papers, such as the use of infographics, readers will be able to familiarize themselves with the visual content that is typical of white papers. (2) With regard to the application of white papers today, it is worthwhile outlining the key role that technical white papers have played in the IT and computer industries. Moreover, white papers have always been closely aligned with innovation and technology. (3) It needs to be more clearly stated what the function of a white paper is and how this is dependent on the context for which it is written. For example, a commercial white paper does not always resemble a marketing communications document. More typically, white papers are aimed at decision-makers in senior management roles. Nodksef (talk) 21:04, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

whatisthe white papper —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:14, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

White Paper Synonymous with Unclassified Public Release?[edit]

I've encountered the term "white paper" as slang for the unclassified, declassified, or redacted version of a classified government document. Notably, unclassified or declassified documents often have a white colored cover, unlike material that is "confidential" or higher. Can anybody else corrobate this? Woerkilt (talk) 23:42, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

General Abuse in the Technical Community[edit]

Thank you for the article.

Suggestion: I feel that this article could benefit from a section on how the technical industry has come to adopt the term "White Paper", its evolution, and eventual widespread abuse. Unfortunately, there is little information I can find on the history of the term "White Paper" as it relates to its use in the technical industry. This is likely due to early sublime adoption of the term from government use by the engineering community.

Obviously, today, a technical white paper in the computing support industry has NOT followed any sort of standards and has basically become a marketing buzz term to convey the general meaning of "technical communication". Here is an example from HP/Compaq's Web site showing a listing of "White Papers". Note how few titles in the list actually reflect a topic on troubleshooting, which contradicts the basic definition of White Paper "A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that helps solve a problem". A visit to other corporation's support sites and searching on the term "white paper" reveals similar results.

This new section, if possible and would require much research, would greatly help curious technical communicators. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Randoody (talkcontribs) 23:11, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

Introduction inadequate; "British Mandate..." section out of place[edit]

This article reads in a really strange way. The intro is too long for the article and it doesn't really boil down the main points. The section on "In British Mandate of Palestine and Zionist history" seems out of place in such a short article. The context and notability of that example is hard to determine.

The article has promise, but it is too weird right now. I'll chip away at it as I have time. Thanks.TWCarlson (talk) 16:11, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Neutrality dispute[edit]

I noticed that this February, the neutrality template was placed within one of the article's sections. What objections are there, and how can we fix this portion of the article? MezzoMezzo (talk) 10:04, 21 May 2013 (UTC)

I don't see much dispute but from my reading, the section lacks sources for the statements made there, many of which are unattributed judgments (POV) that should be removed unless sources and attribution is provided. Jojalozzo 02:06, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
  • I will be removing the tag and cleaning up that section shortly. LHM 14:58, 4 August 2013 (UTC)

Term not in common use in the U.S.[edit]

Perhaps there should be a line in the lead that this term is mainly used in Commonwealth countries? In the U.S. these are probably called "position papers" or "policy proposals" or "government reports". There may be no exact equivalent since the U.S. government and political factions seem to mainly justify their policies to the public through the news media. Ghostofnemo (talk) 01:25, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

As a person who's written white papers, and also a resident of the U.S., I can categorically state that the term is in use (alongside "position papers" and the others) in the United States. LHMask me a question 01:27, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Here is an NBC news story that first refers to the document as a "memo" and then uses the term "white paper" in quotation marks in the fifth paragraph: Ghostofnemo (talk) 01:31, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
I'm sure this term is in use by some people, but most Americans do not use it. I was a politics major, and I had to look it up myself on Wikipedia! Ghostofnemo (talk) 02:00, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
In my experience, in the United States, it is far more common in business than in politics. LHMask me a question 17:56, 10 September 2014 (UTC)


I'm only pointing out the obvious here so don't get me wrong. the term white paper's literal german translation is Weißbuch and that term is used since the end of the middle age. it came about because european countries used to (and still do) 'print' political and diplomatic papers (especially for foreign diplomacy) in different colours. the british probably started that and still to this day, their parliamentary dossiers are called bluebooks. other countries use other colours. italy has green, france yellow, the US and austria red and germany white. because of that papers that are a guide to make a decision/contain information and statistics/make suggestions and give explanation became known as weißbuch (white papers/ white book) in german and the term is now used in politics AND economics but mainly by authorities. that's the link to the german pageßbuch and the general term for these differently coloured diplomatic papers is Farbbuch (colour paper) there you can find the colours used by different countries. unfortunately the link to the english speaking article directly links to the term blue books and there is no general article for 'colour papers' since that term doesn't exist in english. (talk) 09:38, 6 October 2014 (UTC)