White Paper vs Case Study – Understanding the Fundamental Differences

White papers are research-based documents, carrying a single focus. Generally, they are long-form papers that report problems and recommend solutions. Case studies on the other hand are more descriptive and shorter, they present details of a certain problem, how the information was gathered, and suggest some solutions.

Whatever form of content you choose, a case study or a white paper, to promote your business/service, both are content marketing tools and can be beneficial for your business in generating revenue. Because the main purpose of both is to generate leads for you, perhaps you need to decide how you will promote your case study/white paper, publish it on your website, send it through mail or after filling out the gated form.

If you are unfamiliar with the rules of a case study or white paper writing and are short on time to learn about it, get in touch with a professional to get case study writing help. Experts can do it better and quickly.

In this article, we will compare white papers and case studies to understand fundamental differences. If you don’t know which one is used in which use case, continuing reading this article is worth it.

What Is a Case Study?

As per Britannica, “A case study is a detailed description and assessment of a specific situation in the real world created for the purpose of deriving generalisations and other insights from it.” It generally summarises a specific scenario while focussing on an individual customer experience. Using them, you could explain why the suggested solution/business/service is the finest choice for the problem at hand.

Case Study Writing Best Practices

Case studies are mainly used to create awareness of problems and show real-life worked solutions. So basically, case studies showing the success of your product/service persuade customers to become your next customer.

Here are some best practices; following them can make your case study do wonders.

  • Headline has to be benefit-oriented
  • Use real data and matrixes as proof of the claim
  • Explain information in one sentence that summarises key points/clear answers.
  • Around 1000 words explaining how the suggested solution/product solves the problem
  • Include visuals (Illustrations, charts, graphs)
  • Keep it readable and concise
  • Use storytelling approach
  • Customer-centric approach

A case study is generally used at the top or middle of the sales funnel as a marketing tool to create awareness and eventually increase the customer base.

Use Cases

The focus of the case study has to be 90% educational and 10% promotional. You can not overpitch your product/service but talk about the pain points and benefits for the reader.

Here are some cases where case studies can be beneficial for your business:

  • Attract potential customers by showing results
  • Build trust among the audience
  • Provide proof of success or customer endorsement
  • Highlight the benefits of the product
  • Share success stories to help the sales process

Case studies are usually time-consuming due to the need for internal approvals and deep research. Due to their slow-going nature, they may require an extensive amount of time, but experts can do it faster. Contact a professional case study writing service if you are short on time or need it done to perfection.

What Is a White Paper? Best Practices, and Use Cases

According to the University of Massachusetts Lowell, “A white paper is a research-based report which offers a focused description of a complex topic and presents the point of view of the author or body represented by the author.

The white paper is a B2B content marketing tool that helps readers understand a problem and provides technical information to help them make an informed decision. Similar to the case study, a white paper addresses the pain points of the target audience but goes deeper by providing proof points and explaining the research to support the methodology.

The best feature of white papers is that they can be effective at any stage of the funnel, unlike case studies, in which we use only the top/middle of the sales funnel.

White Paper Writing Best Practices

The most often used best practice while writing best practices is the 3-30-3 rule. This rule says you have 3 seconds to catch the attention of the readers, 30 seconds to convince the reader it’s worth reading, and 3 minutes to show why the reader should go through it all.

Here are other best practices that can make your white paper convert your readers to customers:

  • Address pain points in the introduction
  • Add table of contents (in case length got above 3,000 words)
  • Don’t be salesy
  • Use data visuals to break the text and support points
  • Put your website logo and URL for indirect promotion in the footer
  • Cite the resources properly
  • Avoid industry buzz words; be descriptive

We suggest you start with an outline to ensure alignment with the objectives. Remember, a white paper is a lengthy task; it can take up to 5-6 weeks to complete a good marketing document.

Use Cases

White papers need to be kept up-to-date. It has to be updated within 1-2 years (vary from industry to industry).

  • Educating the readers
  • Generating leads
  • Authority establishment
  • Product Promotions
  • Shaping decision maker’s opinions

As white papers contain technical content, they are suggested to be gated with forms. Holding with 3-5 fields is recommended, including work e-mail, Complete name, and company name.

White Paper vs Case Study Template

Here we have provided templates of case study and white paper for your convenience. Watching these templates will give you an idea of what your whitepaper/case study should look like after you complete it.

For your reference, below is the white paper template taken from WordLayouts.

Here is the case study template that was taken from the Smart Sheet for your understanding:

What Are the Three Types of White Paper?

The 3 types of white papers are mentioned here with their uses:

  • Numbered lists
  • Backgrounders
  • Problem/solution white papers.


Backgrounders, also known as “evaluators guide” or “product briefing”. It shares a shortlist of solutions with the customers when they are near to purchase decision. It provides technical details to enhance the understanding of the prospects. Backgrounders white paper is the oldest white paper type.

General use cases are scientific data, customer behaviour towards the product, product guides, and brand establishment.

1. Numbered lists

Numbered list whitepapers are used to engage readers in the early stage of the buyer journey. These accessible whitepapers answer common product questions and increase brand awareness.

2. Problem/Solution White Papers

Attracts the user in the first and middle stages of the funnel, when the user faces a problem and starts searching for the solution. These are the most popular types of whitepapers which convince user why they need solutions for their problem.

White Paper vs Case Study Structure

Here is what the structure of a white paper looks like:

  • Summary
  • Introduction/Background
  • Description
  • Solutions
  • Recommendations
  • References

Following this format for your white paper will make it more comprehensive and perfect.

A case study generally includes:

  • Introduction
  • Background information
  • Overall context
  • Objectives of study
  • Type of Study
  • How the data was collected
  • Analysis of the case
  • Key findings or results

You can consider these benchmarks as a checklist to complete a case study.


Case studies and whitepapers are different marketing tools, used at different funnel stages for different purposes. We have tried to cover the main differences between white papers and case studies to help you determine which document will be best for achieving your marketing goals.

We have discussed best practices, use cases, and definitions of both. We have also provided case studies and white paper templates for your use.

Reading this article might have given you an idea of the main differences and purposes between a case study and a white paper. While we have tried to make the work easy for you, if you think writing a case study is not your cup of tea, you can hire an expert case study writer. This will help you avoid any risk of not getting it right.

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