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Among the folks I support, White Papers and Talking Papers are two
different things with different purposes.
The White Papers I've seen/written have been to-the-point analyses of a
fairly narrow subject with conclusions or recommendations for a course
of action. They are written for decision-makers (in my case, in the
Government). They are on plain white paper (think this is why they are
called "White Papers"?) with a simple heading, long paragraphs, and no
graphics unless really critical to the point. They tend to run two to
three pages in length.
Talking Papers, as Diana noted, are more overviews for information only,
longer but with fewer facts and more glitz than the above. As a friend
of mine said when I asked him about them, "...most Talking Papers I've
seen are written in Kiplingerese." They use color, bullets, charts,
pictures, and other things to make them look appealing.
But, this is just in my little world here in Giant Killer MOA.
Sr. Management Analyst
National Security Programs Group
From: techwr-l-bounces+katherine -dot- darges=defensegp -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+katherine -dot- darges=defensegp -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- c
om] On Behalf Of Diana Ost
Sent: Thursday, August 17, 2006 8:15 AM
To: McKinney, Suzanne; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: White Papers vs. Talking Papers
> 1) Is there a relationship? That is, is the white paper the
> more formal, longer paper and the talking paper the subset
> that addresses just a part of the material in the white paper?
> 2) Is there a defining line between the two?
As I understand it, a talking paper is often used for a presentation or
discussion by a speaker about a technical issue; for example, "Using a
Knowledge Management System in Financial Services." This paper is akin
to a presentation, with lots of bulleted points, overviews, and perhaps
some charts or tables to show a little data. The language may be simpler
with fewer hard numbers included.
White papers, on the other hand, are documented results of an analysis
of a specific topic; for example, the "Cost of Converting from Lotus
Notes to Outlook." This paper is akin to a college thesis, with
footnotes and references in the text, as well as equations, statistics,
or figures to show how the results were derived.
This is based on my experience writing both types when I worked for an
international consulting firm as an analyst, and also as a writer and
editor at an research facility for a major oil company.
There are various examples of both in different styles on the Web. Try
Sun Microsystems (Sun.com), IBM (at Lotus.com) and Oracle.com. They
(used to) have some examples that may help you.
That's only my experience :-) Hope this helps.
Technical Writer/Reporting Analyst
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