Writing Assignment #4
White Paper for an External Audience
Summary of the Assignment:
• Task: In this paper, you will write a document that provides information that an external
audience can use to inform a decision.
We have read various white papers in the class this semester. White papers can be any
one of the following types:
o technical papers
o business benefit papers
o advocacy papers
o hybrid technical/business papers
The CANRIGHT document that is provided in the class in LEO describes all four of
these types of white papers.
• Length: 1200-1600 words
• Graphics: at least three graphics, two of which have to be original
• Format in Citing and Listing Sources: APA
• Number and Sources: at least five sources, at least one of which has to be obtained
Brief Description of the White Paper:
In preparing for this assignment, you will want to review the following video:
“White Papers: An Introduction to the Genre and Its Expectations,” from the Purdue OWL
You may take any of the following approaches:
• a general white paper to an external audience – written to individuals in a particular
industry or field of study, but not an organization you are a part of. The white paper
could address a problem you are attempting to solve in the organization or to inform an
external audience about a relevant trend.
• a white paper promoting a new product or service to potential customers. This is an
example of a white paper to an external audience, but it features different rhetorical
considerations than the typical white paper written to an external audience does.
Both options are discussed in the Purdue OWL video mentioned above.
Please note: You will not be writing a white paper to your boss or to superiors in the
company for which you work.
That type of paper would be an internal white paper. If you take WRTG 394, you can
write that type of paper. For WRTG 393, we ask for a white paper to an external audience.
Strategies to Consider for the White Paper:
Please follow these guidelines:
• have a focused topic. Please see the sample white papers from previous students for
examples of how previous topics have been developed for this paper.
• write to a reasonably focused and identified audience
o A white paper to an external audience can have a broad audience or a narrow
▪ For example, if you do not work for a hair salon and you write a white
paper promoting a new billing system for hair salons, the audience will
probably be the various hair salons in your neighborhood.
o A white paper that promotes a product or service to potential customers could
have a fairly broad audience.
▪ For example, a white paper promoting a new taxi service in your
neighborhood has, theoretically, all residents in the neighborhood as a
• integrate thorough research
• do not directly tell the audience what action it should take. Rather, offer background
information that the audience can use to make a decision. The Purdue OWL video
mentions this principle. This is one reason the video refers to the white paper as a
Continue to the next page
How to Organize the White Paper:
Please include the following sections in your white paper:
• Executive Summary
• Previous Approaches
• New Findings
In the Executive Summary, summarize your research and your purpose. The executive
summary should be a stand-alone document. It should be written in such a way that a busy
executive could read the executive summary and know exactly what the paper is about without
reading the rest of the paper.
In the Introduction, you lay the groundwork for your readers for the details that will be
introduced in the white paper. If you need to define any terms, you will do so here. You might
share an anecdote or illustration to describe why this topic is important.
In the Previous Approaches section, you will describe the approaches or strategies that have
been previously used or are currently used on the topic. For example, if your white paper is
being written to advertise a new taxi service in your area, you might review what transportation
services are provided now. You could show the challenges or problems that the current services
involve. In this section of the white paper, your use of sources will be very important. You
should integrate research to show that the problems you have identified exist.
In the New Findings section, you present perhaps the most important information in the paper.
In this section, you will describe the findings of your research and relate these findings to the
purpose of your report. You will not only provide data and research, but you will also explain
the data and research and why it is relevant to your report’s topic.
For example, if your white paper is being written to advertise a new taxi service in your area, you
might review what transportation services are provided now and show why the new taxi service
fills a need that the current set of transportation services does not fill or solves a problem that the
current set of transportation services does not solve. You will provide data and evidence for why
the new taxi service has promise in solving the problems you have identified.
In this section of the white paper, your use of sources will be very important as well. You should
integrate research to show that the problems you have identified will be solved by your new
In the Conclusion section, you review what your research shows in light of the previous
approaches used. You will not tell the audience what steps to take next. However, you will
summarize what your findings articulate.
In the References, you will list your sources that you cited in the paper. You will list them in
APA format. Please note that the lectures on white papers that you have viewed and examples of
white papers you may have read may not have used APA format. You will be using APA format
in this assignment.
You are required to have at least five sources for your paper. In addition, at least one of them is
to have been acquired through UMGC Library OneSearch.
Primary sources will be very beneficial for the paper. For example, if your white paper is being
written to advertise a new taxi service in your area, you might interview some local residents
about the problems they have with the current transportation services in the area. The
information in such interviews would be persuasive research to integrate into your white paper.
Length of the Paper:
Your white paper should be 1200-1600 words in length. Again, you are required to use at least
five sources, with at least one of them being acquired through UMGC Library OneSearch.
Your white paper should incorporate at least three graphics. Graphics can include tables, charts,
or graphs showing some research findings. They can also be images that are relevant to the topic
of the white paper.
At least two of the graphics must be original. Original graphics can include photos taken by you
or tables, charts, or graphs developed by you.
To see examples of graphics used in white papers, see the Purdue OWL video, “White Papers:
An Introduction to the Genre and Its Expectations," at the 3:27 mark, at the 5:29 mark, at the
6:58 mark, at the 7:01 mark, at the 7:11 mark, at the 7:43 mark, and at the 7:58 mark.
Your instructor will notify you of the due date. You will write a first draft, your instructor will
comment on the first draft, and you will submit a second draft using the comments as your guide.