What exactly is a white paper?

L. Giopp
by L. Giopp - 3 min read - Sun 23 Oct, 2022
What exactly is a white paper?

A white paper, also written as "whitepaper", is a term that generally refers to an official report published by a national government or an international organisation on a particular topic or field of activity. More recently, the therm whitepaper is also used to refer to a document written by a professional expert on a subject that offers quality information of interest to a selected audience of users.

To better understand the term and the implications, we have to start from academia, defining the so-called Paper first.

Paper: a scientific article, usually a research presentation of a particular topic.

White Paper (or Whitepaper): a document that serves as a guide to explain a particular concept or solution to a specific problem.

A whitepaper is not always user friendly

Whitepapers are usually issued by a person or entity with authority on the subject, and the content is technical and very specific, at least for most projects. Generally, it explains clearly the project and may also include any element that contributes to the understanding of the explanation offered (graphs, diagrams, etc.)

For example, within the world of cryptocurrencies, the whitepaper is of fundamental importance. It has the mission to define the crypto project and attract potential investors if the project has an ICO.

This whitepaper must explain the problem, how it will be solved, the funding, and the number of tokens available. As well as a timetable for implementing the project, among other noteworthy details.

Therefore, the whitepaper in the crypto world explains and lays the project's foundations. It is a pillar that should not be missing or built upon in any way.

The main problem with these papers in the cryptocurrency market and the growing base of users is that they can be challenging to understand with an audience neither trained nor educated to understand. Because of this, many people run the risk of being scammed with projects that do not bring anything disruptive or legit from the beginning.

You must consider that the people who develop these documents usually are programmers. As much as they simplify terms and concepts, the whitepaper may not be understandable to everyone. Hence, there are times when it pays to be patient to read this type of document and understand everything exposed.

An example could be the Bitcoin white paper. It is a simple nine-page document that lays the foundation for cryptocurrency. The document is difficult to understand for those without advanced knowledge of programming and mathematics, so it is clearly intended for an eminently technical audience.

But to help you understand Bitcoin's whitepaper, you can find the translation of these nine pages online in almost every language you want. This is not a secondary detail at all. One of the main characteristics of a legit project with a legit whitepaper can be found precisely on that: the accessibility in several languages of the original whitepaper. This is a good thing because it will let everybody understand the fundamentals of the project, or in other words, it will lead more people to dive deeper into all aspects of the project. And this is precisely what crypto scams don't want you to do. We at Hero Translate can confirm this because we have already translated seven whitepapers of seven new crypto projects, and none of them was a scam!

There is no maximum or minimum length required for a whitepaper because it must have simply what is needed to explain the project. Remember that this paper doesn't have to explain everything; things may be missing and therefore should be asked to the author(s) of the paper or the technical community that forms around it.

Basically, the fundamental elements that should be present in any white paper intended for crypto projects are:

  • Problem that the project solves.
  • How to fix it.
  • Capitalisation of the project (financing round, minimum capital, maximum capital, development stages, etc.).
  • How tokens will be distributed, and how they will be invested in the development.
  • Team involved.
  • Roadmap or deadlines for development.


Reading a whitepaper can be challenging; this is a fact. Still, it's a fundamental step if you want to lower the probability of getting scammed.

Even if you don't have a technical background, it will be helpful to read it in your native language, and 99% of the time, you can find the translated whitepaper in your native language on the project's official website. If it's not, it doesn't mean that the project is a scam, but consider it a red flag and read the whitepaper more carefully than you are used to. Instead, if you are part of a new crypto project and want to internationalise your project, we at Hero Translate can be your winning partner. We have already set up a dedicated group of technical translators ready to help you, so you can quickly contact us through our website.

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