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ICO Whitepapers - What Is A White Paper and How to Write One

When you hear the term “white paper,” what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If you’ve never come across one before, or you’ve never written one before, then you might think it’s a plain piece of paper. Well, that’s correct, to a degree.

What we will be discussing here is a different kind of white paper. The white papers that we are talking about here are research-based reports. White papers are usually shorter than an e-book, but they are longer than a blog post. An ICO white paper is the main content format for the marketing teams of an ICO project.

When white papers are well-written, they become a powerful tool for generating leads. They establish authority, and they explain how an ICO will solve problems.

As effective as white papers are, they have gained a bad reputation in some circles. Especially in some marketing circles. This bad reputation is partly due to the many white papers written without a lot of thought and care. Written by a team that has not put enough effort into producing the document.

If you have ever downloaded something referred to as a white paper and got a poorly-designed, thin sales brochure, then you know what a white paper should not be. This is not at all unusual.

In this article, we will explain how to write a white paper that is fit for purpose. Plus, we will walk you through how to promote, write, plan, and format high-quality white papers. We will discuss how to create white papers that people will want to read, and that will suit your business objectives. First, we will look at the basics of a white paper.

What Is a White paper?

When you are ready to reveal your ICO and your company’s in-depth knowledge of your industry, a white paper is the best format to use. A white paper is a valuable tool for your marketing. It’s also a very useful document for highlighting your company’s expertise.

A white paper is an authoritative document designed to educate a reader on a specific project or topic. It combines professional research and in-depth knowledge in a document that proposes or argues for a recommendation or a solution. White papers should help readers reach a decision, solve an issue, or understand a problem.

A white paper is typically a text-heavy and data-centric business document. With a large amount of research and supporting data to back it up, a white paper is usually a deep-read and they are usually written in a formal tone.

The Value and Use of a White paper

White papers are used by businesses as a marketing tool, and as a way of demonstrating expertise in a field. They are usually written for an audience that is outside of the business or organization. White papers are an excellent way promoting a company or business opportunity by providing high-quality, in-depth industry knowledge.

Although white papers are a good marketing tool, they are not a sales pitch. Instead, a white paper sells a business by highlighting internal expertise and by recommending a certain course of action.

Selecting A Topic for a White paper

Choosing the right topic is essential if you want an ICO or any type of white paper to be read. Here are some of the factors to consider when selecting a topic for a white paper.

Your Audience

As with any business document, the first thing to consider is your target audience. A white paper needs to be written with a specific target audience in mind. The audience might be new prospective buyers that are entirely new to the industry. It could be long-time customers that were already familiar with the field. It could be potential investors in a new ICO project.

Before you select a topic for your white paper, you need to consider the reader’s main questions or their pain points. Then, you can select a topic that addresses these points. It should be a topic that will provide new information or propose a new solution.

Your Company’s Expertise

Another thing to consider when picking a topic for a white paper is your company’s expertise. The white paper should be able to highlight this. This is especially important when it comes to writing ICO white papers. It’s one of the first things that many potential investors will look at.

A White paper Should Be Solution-Focused and Problem-Based

A white paper should identify, and then address, a problem. The problem must be current and relevant. A white paper could focus on issues such as industry comparisons, changing techniques, new trends, common dilemmas, and so on.

Additionally, your white paper must have a proposed recommendation or solution. This solution should be based on in-depth research, your company’s expertise, and research into other potential solutions.

Preparing to Write a White paper

It is important that you don’t jump straight into writing a white paper. You need to do your preparation first. Here are the preparatory steps to take before you start writing a white paper.

Proper Research

Once you have chosen a topic, you must research that topic. Information can be obtained from internal documents, industry resources, and online references. White papers are data-centric. They need to be supported by relevant and significant research.

When it comes to citations in a white paper, there are no fast and hard rules about how to go about it. However, you do need to cite any information that you didn’t know before you started your research. Especially if it is not public knowledge. Your audiences’ confidence in your document will be enhanced if you have cited references.

All information that you use needs to have come from authoritative sources. To increase the value of your document, all your research material needs to be reliable and credible.

Read Other White Papers

If there are existing white papers that have already been published on your chosen topic, you will need to read them. This is to identify knowledge gaps and to gain the opportunity of building on existing content. This makes it easier to write a white paper, and it will increase the credibility of your document. A review of other white papers will also ensure that you create a new and unique white paper. Not one that is already redundant.

Utilize A Mind-Map

Keeping track of so many ideas, and sources when preparing a white paper can be overwhelming. But a helpful organizational tool that you can use is a mind-map.

If you use a mind-map, you can catalog and connect the many pieces of the jigsaw you have collected and present them in a single visual overview.

Writing Your Outline

White papers are not short write-ups or ebooks. They are usually quite long documents. However, the same process you would use for outlining a short piece, like a blog post, can also work here. You will need to make your outline more detailed and a bit longer, though. This is so that you can avoid getting confused or lost in your thoughts halfway through. Here’s what should be included in a white paper outline.

A Working Title or Headline

When you have established a suitable topic, you don’t necessarily need to decide on a title or headline right away. You can start with a working title or headline. When you write the detailed content, it is quite likely that you will come up with a better title for your white paper.

An Executive Summary

The executive summary is a brief description of what your readers should expect your white paper to be about. It is usually about 200 words or more. You can think of your executive summary as a short pitch for why there’s a need to read the rest of the white paper.

An Introduction

Your introduction should explain the essential points of the document. It will highlight the points that you will explore in greater depth in the body of your white paper.


You don’t need to finalize your subheadings straight away. However, it is crucial that you have a detailed idea of what you’ll be discussing in each section. If your title is based on the core problem you want to solve, then you should consider each of your sub-headings as a step toward resolving it or more like a sub-point.

Underneath each of your subheadings, you should include further bullet points that clarify the points you are making. This is where it becomes helpful to know what you want to write about before you begin write it.


Another thing you should add to your white paper is breakdown boxes or sidebars. These items usually contain data tables or additional information. Just like you would find in some magazines.

For each section of your white paper, you should list any possible ideas for a sidebar that you might have. These ideas could include any data or research you’ll need to find.

Concluding Section

This part of the white paper is usually titled “Conclusion”. It summarizes all the key takeaway points. The conclusion is also the section of a white paper that would include any calls to action.

Formatting A White Paper

The next thing to consider is how to format a white paper.

The way the content of a white paper is ordered is like that of a business report. However, the significant difference is that a white paper puts the conclusion at the end of the document.

Technical proposals, reports, and other business communications usually place the main conclusion at the beginning of the document. The way that these documents are ordered responds to the expectations of the targeted audience and the way they prefer to receive the information.

The research and content of a white paper is what informs the reader and deepens their knowledge of the issue throughout the document. The concluding part of the document provides that magic moment where the reader gets the proposed solution. The solution that is backed by the evidence provided in the body of the white paper.

The way that people read a business report and a white paper differ. The order and the layout of the two types of documents also differ. In both cases the document must be easy to read. It must also include informative headings that readers can easily navigate through.

Pick A Suitable Title

A good title is very important. That’s why we’ve gone through the other key things to consider before choosing a title. Your title should describe what the reader is going to learn from reading the white paper. A white paper title also needs to be exciting and enticing. It should make the reader want to read the whole document.

The word “white paper” does not need to appear in your title. While some readers may be looking for that authoritative pointer, others may be scared off by it. As always, you need to consider the preference of your target audience.


The next thing to consider is the abstract. This should provide your audience with a brief overview of the major points of your white paper. The abstract allows a reader to decide if the document is relevant to them. After reading the abstract, your audience should know if they need to continue or if they are in the wrong place.

Problem Statement

The problem statement of the white paper identifies the major issue that the document will address. You need to define the problem and place it into a context to ensure that your readers understand it.


This part of the white paper gives a background information needed for readers to understand the issue as well as the proposed solution. The content of this section may be high-level and broad, or it could be technical and detailed. The layout will depend on the problem and on the reader. If you conducted original research for the white paper, then you should explain the methods you used in the background section.


The solution is what the reader came to your white paper to learn. In this section, you should present the solution based on the preceding information.

You need to develop your argument for the solution using the information you gathered and your expertise. This section should also explain why your organization is the right organization to deliver the solution.


The conclusion summarizes the major findings of your white paper. You can also provide recommendations or a call to action based on the proposed solution in the conclusion.


The reference section contains cited and collected sources used in developing the white paper. It adds authenticity to your document. Your references also provide the reader with appropriate content for further research.

To Wrap It Up

Creating a good ICO white paper is not as simple as might first appear to be. However, with thought and time, you can produce a constructive document that shares your organization’s vision and knowledge. The importance of an ICO white paper cannot be understated. There have been many initial coin offerings that failed or succeeded on the bases of a white paper. Take your time, do your research, and follow the above guidelines. Then, you will be able to create a white paper that informs and that will generate investor interest in your ICO.
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