Social or Political Focus
• The term white paper was originally used to describe
a report that states the social or political position of
IT Marketing Focus
• Sometimes a white paper is a marketing document
aimed at selling a certain technology or products.
Technical or Research
• At other times, a white paper presents the results scientific
research or findings from a usability test of a product(s). This
is the type of white paper you are writing.
White Papers Can Be
• Written for internal audiences – coworkers, project
managers, high-level decision makers.
• Written for external audiences – clients or
• In both cases, document design is important.
The Importance of Document Design
• Document design supports (or can work against) the
brand personality of a business or organization.
• Enforcing a consistent document design has traditionally
been done by giving employees style guides and having
editors make certain that the style is consistently
• In today’s workplace, however, the volume and
complexity of documents means that traditional
methods are often very inefficient.
Here’s an Example
• This is a list of the literature that
Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories
(SEL) produces. Under each menu item
are often up to a hundred or more
• Because many different employees will
write this literature, SEL needs to have
a means of ensuring that those
documents will be consistent in design,
reflecting their brand, and also a way
to do this efficiently.
• Structured authoring provides the
means of doing both.
Structured Authoring Technology
• When writers use structured authoring technology, they
complete a series of steps within a writing environment
controlled by software that enforces style rules and organizing
patterns for sets of documents.
• Writers must complete these steps by using the software
before the document can be published.
• What this also means is that content can be easily separated
and stored in a database, and then repurposed when creating
documents that will use similar language for similar sections.
Adobe FrameMaker is a Popular Software
for Structured Authoring
Most white papers are produced using structured
authoring. Let’s look at an example.
Notice how tableau’s website and
white papers have a common look and
There is some variation in the pages of
these white papers, but the design and
structure is consistent.
These are examples of data sheets by
SEL. These sheets describe the
features and benefits of the products.
Notice they have a consistent look and
feel that supports the brand.
In this project,
• You will not be using structured authoring
technology, but you will be able to practice
structured authoring conceptually.
• I’ll provide a rule for the structure of your white
paper that you should follow.
• The design, however, will be your choice.
The Structure Rule is Based on IMRaD
IMRaD stands for:
This is a common structure for
presenting the results of research, and it
evolved out of the need to separate:
• Methods: how the research was done.
• Results: what the research found.
• Discussion: what the findings mean.
Using this structure allows readers to
decide the validity of methods, findings,
Use Either IMRaD or Modified IMRaD Structure
• Title Page
• Table of Contents
• Conclusion and/or
These major headings need to be in your paper.
You may modify the IMRaD structure to put
results and discussion together or separate
them if that works best for your content.
You will also need a clear conclusion and/or
recommendations and a works cited or
bibliography depending on the documentation
style you are using.
As you create the document design, remember
to apply design principles you learned when
composing the infographic.
Title Page: Poor Design Choices
Color choices and
Clearly, these are not
the best rhetorical
Title Page: Improved Design Choices
design choices match
the purpose of the
white paper, so the
design is supporting
Word: Title Page Tip
• If you change the background color of the title page (or any
page) in Word, that background color will be in all pages.
• To avoid that problem, use a text box, and stretch it the width
and length of your cover page.
• NOTE: there are other solutions to that problem.
to Usability White Papers Function
• Rhetorically, the introduction creates a permanent
record of what was tested, why, who did the test,
and for whom.
– It’s important to be specific in defining/describing the
products you tested and typical users of these products.
Rhetorical Moves for Writing the Introduction.
Option 1: Start the introduction with a purpose statement.
This white paper describes the findings from a usability test of
two free blogging tools: Tumblr and Blogger.
This white paper evaluates how Gimp, a free cloud computing
tool, compares to its pricey counterpart: Adobe Photoshop.
Option 2: Start the introduction with phrase or sentence definition
then move to a purpose statement.
Weebly and WordPress are [write a phrase or sentence-definition of these two tools].
This white paper describes the findings from a usability test of these two
Another Example: Sometimes the phrase that defines the tool can be first,
leading to a statement about the tools.
Image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop often have steep learning
curves, deterring most novices from trying them. This white paper describes
the findings from a comparison of two image editing products aimed at
novice users: [name the two products].
• Make a decision about which rhetorical move to make in your introduction based on
audience analysis. What do they know? What do they need to know?
Introduction: other content to include.
• Description of users you identified.
If the user description is complex, then you might consider moving the level of detail to the
methods section, and just briefly describe users in the introduction.
• Add who did the testing and why.
Use first person “I” because third person can sound pretty weird.
If you include this project in your portfolio, you will want to make it clear that the
usability test was done as part of course work in technical writing.
How Methodology Sections in
Usability White Papers Function
• Just as in an engineering or scientific experiment, the methodology
section explains the design of the test or experiment. Rhetorically, it is
how you did the test.
• As such, it needs to include all aspects of methods. One mistake that
novice writers make is to put introductory material into the methodology
section and vice versa.
• Scientific and engineering documents (and usability tests) often use an
IMRaD structure because the reader needs these sections to be separate
in order to evaluate the significance of the data. For example, was the test
methodology valid, but the results were inconclusive? Were the results
valid but the interpretation (discussion section) over-valuing the
significance of the findings?
What to include.
• Tasks. Describe the specific tasks you did when using each product.
Consider using a list here.
• Test Environment. State when you did the test, where, and anything
else that helps a reader understand the testing methods you used such as
type of computer (laptop, desktop, PC or Mac etc.?).
• Evaluative Criteria/Rating Scale. State the criteria and Likert Scale
used to evaluate usability.
How Results Sections Function
• Digest the Data (Findings) for Readers – What this means:
– In one study comparing successful and unsuccessful engineering
reports, engineers and managers frequently referred to "digested" vs.
– Successful engineers not only reported technical information but
helped their readers understand the significance of the data.
• You will want to do the same with your raw data.
Writing the Results
• Analyze the raw data from your data collection form. Decide the most
significant aspects of the test findings.
• Turn the notes you took into clear, concise technical descriptions of
what happened when you did the task and how you evaluated usability
(i.e. criteria and Likert Scale scores).
• Organize the results section to help readers understand the significance
of the findings (see slide 17 for one way to organize findings -- there are
other ways than this, make a decision based on what you are testing)
• Incorporate visuals to help reader follow the test findings:
– screenshots and/or graphics to represent some of the test findings
such as significant aspects of the Likert Scale rankings.
Ways to Organize Test Results
The following slide explains one way to organize test results.
NOTE: There are many ways to organize test results based on what makes
sense for what you tested and your usability test data.
Here is one way to organize the results.
Use complete criteria statements with Likert Scale in the results section.
• Task 1: Create a web site and assign a theme.
[List each task and describe what happened when you did the task. Include
screenshots as needed. End your description with the criteria statement and
Likert Scale with score.]
[Insert criteria statement used to evaluate usability.]
At the end of your results section, compare scores earned per criteria statement for
each product. You could graphically represent the scoring data in a table or bar chart.
List each criteria statement you applied with the corresponding score.
See usability testing lecture for information on criteria statements and
• Make recommendations to potential users of the product.
Consider if it is useful to explain which product might be best
for a novice vs. a product for a more experienced user.
• NOTE: if both are about equal, then say that.