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Pharmacy: White Papers

A guide to research and clinical resources for Pharmacy faculty and students at the University of Manitoba.

What is a White Paper?

The term 'White Paper' originated in Britain as a specific form as government reports that were short, focused, and authoritative (and had a white cover). They have evolved to now refer to a research-based report that market or promote a specific product, solution, service, or viewpoint. White papers are frequently used by businesses and for-profits to showcase and market new information and persuade the reader to buy their products of services.

Key Characteristics

  • Purpose: To advocate or promote a certain position or product as a solution for a problem
  • Length: can vary from short (1-2 pages) to long (100+ pages); standard is at least 2,500 words and usually about 5-6 pages 
  • Audience: Usually the general public but they can also be aimed at experts in the field
  • Writing Style: less formal than academic writing; written in a narrative style with the writer attempting to to keep the reader engaged the whole time
  • Goal: To identify a problem that the reader has, and present a compelling argument for your product or service will help solve it


  • Introduction: A short summary of what the white paper will include
  • Background of Problem: A longer description of what problem(s) exists that your product or service might help solve. 
  • Solution: Explain your product or service and how they will solve the problem
  • Advertisement: A chance for you to do in-depth on your product or service - how does it work, what does it look like, how was it developed, etc. Include visuals and graphs as often as possible.
  • Conclusion: A summary of what you have presented above 
  • References: A strong white paper cites the resources it has included, which point to reader to additional resources and help demonstrate your understanding of the subject


Organization of a White Paper

(Image Source: Purdue OWL


White papers almost always include references lists as they are a an opportunity to show that the author had done their research and is an expert in the field. While there is no single citation style used in White Papers, the author should choose one style (e.g., AMA ) and use it consistently throughout to demonstrate their sources.




OWL's White Paper Guide

White Paper Resources

Searching for White Papers

White papers contain a mix of academic and industry based information so you may want to expand your search from typical resoures