8 Important Elements of A White Paper Design

Team Pepper
Posted on 22/08/227 min read
8 Important Elements of A White Paper Design
A white paper can impress, inform and educate your audience. However, this long-form content type needs a specific design to get the job done.

If you want to create a long-lasting channel that effectively communicates, engages, and educates your audience, a white paper is a great way to get all these things done in one go!


A white paper is a detailed document that effectively communicates all the details about a particular topic, demonstrating that you are not just a brand that sells a product or service but has deep expertise and knowledge within your niche or segment.


If done well, a white paper can improve your brand’s trustworthiness, and reputation and even win long-lasting customer loyalty for your brand. Plus, white papers are beneficial for lead generation and have proven to boost sales for an organization.


While content and research are the cornerstones of any successful white paper, the effectiveness of a white paper is all about how it is presented and designed, ensuring that the essential components of the white paper are appropriately highlighted and showcased to the audience.




Companies must rely on resources that understand the content and design aspects to design white papers. They can help create white paper design templates that align with the brand’s design guidelines while appealing enough to get the reader interested and curious.


To help you understand and effectively craft a white paper design, here is a look at the essential elements you should consider.

8 Essential Elements of a White Paper Design

When you are creating a white paper design, here are the eight elements you should include:

1. Make sure the cover resonates with the topic.

The first thing your reader will notice about the white paper is its cover; if that fails to impact the reader, the chances of it being opened are relatively low. The cover is an opportunity for the brand to showcase precisely what to expect from the white paper and should be designed to resonate with the brand and the audience.


For example, if your target audience is a formal, B2B customer, the cover should include design and illustrations that create an impact but are subtle in their approach. Meanwhile, if your audience is a millennial or B2C customer that wants refreshing and emotion-driven content, include illustrations, graphics, and colorful elements.

2. Readability is the primary element of a good design.

Another crucial factor for white paper design is the content’s readability. Several times, creative liberty and design focus ends up making it hard for the reader to concentrate on the core aspect of the white paper, its valuable content.


White paper design



Suppose the elements, illustrations, and other designs are taking attention away from the content or interplaying it, making it difficult to read. In that case, it is time to redesign the white paper.


Remember that the objective of a white paper design is to accentuate the key elements of the content and amplify impact, not to take attention away.

3. Think about the WHY

The purpose of a white paper for a brand is not just to share information but also to share the brand’s expertise with the audience. Hence, the why is important not just when it comes to creating content but also when designing the white paper.


 Goal setting



The white paper design must focus on the why and bring it out subtly while supporting the content. Make sure you understand the white paper’s core purpose and design it.

4. Highlight facts & data points

The white paper design is not just about the font choice, colors, visuals, or illustrations; it also needs to incorporate data visualizations and numbers to help make an impact.


Highlight facts in a whitepaper



Incorporate data visualizations and infographics that illustrate the key points better than words. Visual designs help to put things in perspective and allow the audience to understand and digest the data better.


Make sure you highlight the data points, use infographics and graphs, and amplify facts and figures to stand out.

5. Graphics are just as important as the content.

Graphics are just as crucial in any white paper as the content. The reason is that while the content plays the role of educating and communicating a point, the graphic helps to emphasize and accentuate that point.


When your readers skim through the details, the graphics and the visuals will get attention, and if it doesn’t have a meaning or does not support the content, the chances of the content impressing the audience are pretty low.


6. Keep the branding subtle.

When designing a white paper, brands tend to go overboard with branding and highlighting brand-focused aspects in the design. However, brands must also remember that a white paper is not a brochure or marketing material but a thought-leadership document.


So while the logo and branding can be included in its pages and cover, it has to be subtle and not the core focus of the document. Include boilerplate content at the end, provide CTAs and leave contact details, but make sure the essence of the white paper does not get diluted.

7. Revise the 3-30-3 rule

White paper designs are not just about presenting the content well, it also involves clever placement and ensuring that the design adds value to the white paper content. To ensure that your white paper is appealing enough despite being text-heavy, it is highly recommended to follow the 3-30-3 rule.



This rule is famously used when designing brochures, magazines, advertisements, press releases, and websites.

The 3-30-3 rule goes like this,

● Since your reader has a lot of content to sift through, make sure you can grab attention. If the white paper doesn’t manage to appeal to the reader in the first 3 seconds, there is a high chance the reader will snap out and move to another resource.

● Once you have their attention, you now need to impress your reader. Here, you get 30 seconds or more wherein the reader will read the first few paragraphs. So the introduction needs to speak with the reader and have a powerful cue.

Meanwhile, the design should be fresh, the cover should be appealing enough to grab the reader’s focus, and each page should have intricate designs that add value and help the reader get a high-level understanding of what to expect from each page.

● Now that your reader has read your introduction and understands that your content is relevant, you have 3 minutes to get your point across. Here, designers can use fonts and themes, enabling the reader to focus on the core messaging and quickly get facts, figures, and essential details.

Ensure that the core of your white paper jumps out and is visible to the reader while highlighting elements like the CTA, the crucial paragraphs, the summary, etc.

8. Make sure your white paper is in line with your business goals.

Although a white paper aims to inform and educate the reader, businesses can use white papers in different scenarios. When you have finalized a white paper design, it is essential to know if it resonates with your brand goals. The white paper goals have to be more tangible and not just focused on general purposes.

For example, to build brand awareness, create tangible outcomes linked with your white paper, like “getting X number of visits to your website” or something similar. Depending on the objective, your white paper will have relevant CTA, and the design too should focus on enhancing this aspect.

The Final Word

Now that you know the essential elements of creating and designing a white paper, it is time to prepare to make one for yourself. The white paper creation process is all about research, content curation, collection of data points, designing, and editing, and it can take a lot of time to go from ideation to release.


If you need help creating an engaging and insightful white paper, feel free to shout out to our team. With expert writers and designers well versed in every element and aspect of white paper content and design, you can elevate your brand’s overall content marketing approach and create a remarkable white paper design that your target audience will love.


1. What is a white paper design?

White papers are informative documents that are usually filled with data and research, which include facts, data sheets, graphs, and other information that can add value to the reader and help educate them about the selected topic.
Since it involves a lot of content and data points, designing a white paper requires a unique skill set and should help bring out the key points and facts in the content while abiding by the brand guidelines of the organization creating it.

2. What are the essential elements of white paper design?

The core elements that you need to understand when you design a white paper template include:
● Making sure the cover resonates with the topic
● Readability is the primary element of a good design
● Thinking about the WHY?
● Highlighting facts & data points
● Understanding that graphics are just as important as the content
● Keeping the branding subtle
● Revise using the 3-30-3 Rule
● Making sure your white paper is in line with your business goals.

3. What is a white paper?

A white paper is an informative document that delves deep into a particular topic or business area. It is usually issued by companies, not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions, and agencies to showcase their expertise and authority on the subject. Since white papers are focused on educating the audience, they cannot have a direct promotion or focus only on the product, solution, or services that the organization offers.

4. How long is a white paper usually?

Although there is no standard thumb rule on the length of a white paper, a typical white paper can be 8-12 pages long, while there can be shorter ones that are 3-4 pages. More than the content and the length, the focus of a white paper should always be to ensure that it covers all aspects of a particular topic or focus area and adds value to the reader.