Writing Mini-Reports and White Papers


It's May and the flowers are all set to sprout abundantly, as spring shifts into top gear. With that in mind, we're gearing up as well into a more substantive form of writing. Last month we dealt with Emails and Memos, which are more in line with a shorter-form of compact writing. This month we're discussing Mini-Reports and White Papers. Two slightly more involved forms of writing that businesses utilize to convey information.

Mini-reports and white papers deal with a certain subject in detail. Typically, mini-reports are for internal purposes in an organization or they find use as informational tools offered to individuals and enterprises outside an organization. Whereas a White Paper is an educational piece used mainly in business-to-business (B2B) marketing. An example would be a telecommunications enterprise issuing a white paper describing their new state-of-the-art smartphone and all its features.

Mini-Reports

A mini-report or a short report is a document classified by format, not by content. A mini-report can be about anything that management requires it to be about in as far as it concerns their operations. In a manufacturing plant, a new process may undergo implementation to make an assembly line more efficient. The company may issue a simple one or two page mini-report to all employees who will work on this line.  A mini-report may simply be an enterprise informing their employees about the results of a customer survey. They wish to let their employees know what their customers are thinking and what they desire from the company's products and services. Therefore, the company issues a short report on their findings from the survey.

A mini-report can be formal or informal. It can be a spruced up memorandum in the form of a report. It can also be a letter report or a form report. The distinguishing factor is that it's a shorter report than the more involved long report, which goes into even greater depth when dealing with a subject.

A mini-report won't have supplementary sections such as indexes, table of contents, and appendixes. The long form report may have one or more of these. Memorandum reports are usually brief. They may be only a few lines or paragraphs, or a couple of pages. They take the format of a memorandum and the style is usually informal.

A short letter report has a business letter format. Usually a letter report is a way for a company to send relatively brief information to those outside the enterprise. In addition, another kind of mini-report is the form report. This short report has a set format, pre-determined by someone in the organization. This type of shorter report has lines, boxes, questions, and such, already included as part of the form. It's a fixed format, which allows for the efficient creation of a short report.

White Papers

White papers are much more involved than mini-reports. They require more research as well. They are a way for business enterprises to inform other businesses about their products and services. With a white paper, a company looks to offer solutions. In effect, they're a form of advertising, but have a more journalistic, news style to them, instead of being full of advertising hype.

A white paper may describe how a certain product solves a problem that another business often faces. For example, a company that markets Inventory Management Software may put out a paper directed to the retail industry entitled "Better Inventory Management Reduces Carrying Costs and Promotes More Frequent Product Turnover." The white paper would explain why inventory management is crucial to a retail business. At the end of the paper would be paragraphs describing the company's software that can help a business with controlling their inventory.

The white paper may present statistics, graphs, charts, data, as well as quotes and opinions from experts outside of the organization. The idea is to present as much unbiased information as is possible to the reader. The white paper must not sound like a late-night TV commercial trying to "hype" a product. However, it should offer the company's unique solution – one of their products or services. It offers the company's solution in a matter of fact, non-hype way, which leaves it up to the reader to draw their own conclusions and make their own decisions based on all the information presented in the white paper.

A typical white paper has a cover with a title and maybe some subtitles. It may also have a short executive overview that gives a brief description of what the white paper will entail. Next, it will have an introduction, and then it will discuss the problem or issue at hand and explain a solution. A white paper supports its solution with all the above-mentioned collected information from various sources.

It will then convey the benefits of instituting a solution. In the case we mentioned above, the White Paper would discuss how a quality Inventory Management software program could help an enterprise operate efficiently and save money. The white paper may highlight a case study of how an enterprise solved their Inventory Management problems by implementing the proposed solution.

Finally, the white paper states their conclusion. Of course, in the conclusion is an appropriately worded recommendation talking about the company's particular solution. Here's where the white paper is promoting the company's product or service, but in a roundabout, non-blatant way. The reader feels they've read an informative detailed document, not a direct-mail letter.

Take the time to read the various mini-reports and white papers that diverse business enterprises make available. In addition, immerse yourself in the various internal documents that your place of employment may supply you. You will learn new words and phrases as you read. As a bonus you will pick up new business terminology, and be up-to-date on how businesses get their messages across to highlight the products and services they offer.

Readability

Words: 975
Paragraphs: 17
Sentences: 64
Pages (approximate): 2
Average sentences per paragraph: 3.76
Average words per sentence: 15.23
Average characters per word: 5.14
Flesch Reading Ease: 48.46
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 10.00
Automated Readability Index: 10.00