White papers, so named because they usually are published in pamphlets/booklets on white paper, are heavily researched papers that are presented either to the government or a field-specific authority on a particular topic. The idea behind the white paper is that it is used to educate the paper’s readers and enable them to help solve a problem. To draw a comparison, a good way to think about a white paper is to consider it a legal brief; however, it is not for the legal field. White papers are presented to the government and at conferences, and are beneficial to many researchers because they contain a wealth of information already synthesized. The tricky part arises not in finding ways to use the white papers for research work or an academic document such as a thesis or dissertation, but in how to cite them properly. Hopefully, this blog will teach you how to cite a white paper properly. Below please find examples of common style guides and their ways for citing white papers.

For example, in the popular style guide of APA style, white papers often are referred to as government documents or reports from private organizations, and their citations follow this format:

Institute name/organization being represented. (date). White paper title (White paper publication info).

City, State: Place of printing/publication.

It is important to note that it still follows proper citation format with an indent of a half-inch on the second line.

For the proper citation for APA of a white paper that is retrieved from online, follow this method of white paper citation:


Author Last, First Initial or Corporate Author Name. (Year of Publication).Title

[White paper]. Retrieved from URL

Chicago Style citation, another popular style guide used more often in the field of science, differs by whether the white paper’s issuing agency is the author, or if it is presented on behalf of the government. If the agency is the author, format the white paper citation this way:

Agency/organization name.White paper title. City: Place of publication, date.

If it is authored by/presented on behalf of the government, this changes the white paper citation slightly. For a report presented by the government, format the white paper citation this way:

Branch of Government.Subcommittee.White paper title.(Publication info such as issue and page). City: Office of publication, date.

For a report presented by a committee, format the white paper citation this way:

Government.Branch.Committee.White paper title: date. Congress number, session, date. Place of publication, page numbers.
MLA shows you how to cite the white paper if it is retrieved from a website. Please format the MLA white paper citation in this manner:

Author.”Title of page or document.”Name of site. Date website

published. Sponsoring Institution or organization (if relevant).

Date of access .

MLA also uses the term “published conference proceedings,” which white paper citation would fall under. Please cite a regular white paper this way in MLA style:

LastName, FirstName, ed. Conference Title that Includes Conference Date and Location.

Place of publication: Publisher, Date of Publication. Print.

Just as white papers are beneficial to other researchers and even journalists, they often benefit the academic writer. This is because a white paper contains a treasure trove of information about an issue that is created for the sole purpose of delineating the salient points on an issue.  However, it is extremely important to ensure that the organization/government branch/author gets proper credit for their(his) hard work. Are you still in doubt about how to cite a white paper? The editors at Professional Book Editing Services are eager to help. When in doubt, contact a professional!