You can't underestimate the importance of your white paper's title.
In today's fast-paced business environment, readers don't have time to waste on boring or irrelevant white paper topics. At best, your title will only have a few seconds to grab the reader's attention and push him toward the information contained in the rest of the document.
The rules for writing effective white paper titles are essentially the same as the rules for creating the titles for other kinds of writing. The only difference is that the stakes are much higher for white papers since the right reader can generate volumes of sales leads for your business.
Need to come up with a good white paper title? Follow these tips and you'll be on your way to picking a winner:
- Make it enticing. The title is supposed to draw the reader into the document. As such, your white paper title has to be enticing – there has to be something about it that encourages the reader to keep reading. If your title is boring or stale (e.g. "Corn Flakes Are Healthy For You") your white paper won't be read.
- Make promises. Great titles promise something to the reader, usually a benefit or a solution. Without giving too much away, your title should quickly convince the reader that there is something in it for him if he reads your white paper (e.g. "Corn Flakes Add Years to Your Life".)
- Be clear and concise. Short and simple titles are always preferable to wordy and convoluted ones. Remember, readers rely on titles to make split-second decisions about whether they will read the rest of your white paper. A title like, "Kellogg's Cornflakes Are A Healthy Breakfast Alternative with Curative Properties for People in Every Geographic & Demographic Sector of the U.S." is a far less effective title than, "Corn Flakes: America's New Wonder Drug?"
- Be clever. Sadly, cleverness is the place where many great white papers die a violent and ugly death. Clever white paper titles are great, but the problem is that attempts at cleverness often deteriorate into cryptic phrases that nobody understands. To be used effectively, clever titles have to maintain clarity and amuse the average reader – not just the writer.
- Use subtitles. Subtitles are a wonderful way to make up for everything that is lacking in the title itself. Whatever rules you break in your title can be compensated for in a subtitle that reinforces and elaborates on the title. So for the title "The Cornflake Revolution", a good subtitle might be "How Cornflakes Are Changing the Way We Approach the Healing Process".