How to Develop White Paper for ICO: Do’s and Don’ts

It can sometimes be tough to stay up to date for those of us who like to keep a keen eye on new currencies entering the market. Initial Coin Offering’s (ICO’s) seem to be almost a daily occurrence.

With cryptocurrencies hitting such a boom period in both practicality and media attention, it’s hardly surprising that there is a rush to develop and deploy new offerings as soon as possible.

If it is done right, an ICO can be a complicated and lengthy processes to structure. Aside from the actual technological development of the coin itself (including any exchanges, wallets or other extras being deployed), there are a huge number of additional commercial and business factors to consider during the process.

Having been fortunate enough to assist with six ICO’s over the last few months (including some of the markets biggest movers) it has become apparent that there is one, often overlooked, pivotal element in the entire process – the White Paper.

For those who have never taken the time to look at a new ICO offering (as some people simply prefer to work in more established currencies), a White Paper is the document prepared by a party in anticipation of launching a new currency.

It details the commercial, technological and financial details of a new coin offering and puts it into digestible chunks that the reader can understand. Put simply, it’s everything you need to know about the currency before making your mind up if you want to invest, purchase or use it.

In light of what a White Paper is supposed to be, it is astounding the number of ICO’s that do not take the White Paper seriously. They produce a sub-par document that gives the reader little to no information about the offering, other than some marketing spiel about how great the currency will be and how it will beat all others that lay before it. Yawn.

For anyone who is currently working with an ICO and confronted with the task of writing a White Paper, I would strongly suggest following these simple points below to assist your audience and boost potential sales during the ICO.

Keep it simple

It goes without saying that sometimes people can go a little over the top with anything they write (myself included). White Papers have frequently fallen victim to the non-stop drumming of information, most of which the reader does not need.

The end goal here is to part the information that is needed onto the reader without the reader getting bored. This is not a boxing match; you’re not trying to put the reader to sleep. Keep information simple, blocked and easy to read.

Kick off with non-technical information and then move onto your more technical stuff, the reader may not have the same level of technical knowledge as the writer, so cater for all types of readers and don’t assume they want the hardcore technical info straight away.

Some people simply invest, with minimal interest in how the currency works, and want to see what your one has to offer.

Show don’t tell

Graphics are everything in a White Paper never underestimate their power. They help to breakdown the monotony of constant words and allow the writer to get key information across using graphics.

Some of the most comprehensive, concise and well put together documents will contain imagery to get their point across.

However, don’t include images just for the sake of putting them in there, this is no magazine, keep them relevant. Only include images that have some kind of information and improve the knowledge that the reader is getting by including them; Charts, Graphs, Logo’s all have a use.

Some people take in information by visualization, give the reader important facts and figures that they can glance at without having to dig through the whole document.

Especially if you are trying to compare your offering to others on the market.

This is finance

Remember folks, the technology of cryptocurrencies is a both technological and financial. The amount of White Papers that have little to no information about the actual financial element of the currency is astounding.

Talk about fundamentals; how much do you see your currency being worth, how big is your market cap, is there any capshare information you can include, is there a FIAT element to your currency – key financial information that will be wanted by an investor.

Most important of all explain why. If the number of White Papers guilty of not putting any real financial information within them was high, the number not including actual reasons for their answers is astronomical.

Explain to the reader why you forecast these numbers, why that market cap, why those items as a FIAT component. Without any tangible backing and explanation, your offering can look like it is only trying to make you rich.

Balance the technology

It goes without saying that a White Paper should contain technological information. However, try and strike that balance between giving away the entire outlook of how your offering will operate technologically and delivering zero information at all around it at all.

Introduce any patents, copyrights or actual protections that your technology set has in place.

Build real confidence

Introduce yourself, talk about why you (or your company) is deploying this coin/token and why they have chosen now to put it into the market. Talk about actual advantages that your coin/token offers, more than just simple “we noticed a need in the market…”.

To be clear, the market doesn’t need your coin but explain why the reader would.

More importantly, invite individuals to communicate further with you about your offering, making it clear that you have an ability to communicate with your future investors, you are all part of the same team.

Remember, cryptocurrencies are now attracting the attention of serious investors that control serious money. Therefore, you should aim to build confidence in both those at the lower end of investment and the higher, more lucrative end.

Make it unique

Finally, make sure that your White Paper reflects both your company and your offering with the style and image that you want to become known for. The earlier you build your brand and make that awareness, the better your offering will do for it.


By Cal Evans

Cal Evans is an International Technology Lawyer from London who studied Financial Markets at Yale and has experience working with some of the best-known companies in Silicone Valley. In 2016 Cal left a top 10 California law firm to start Gresham International a legal service and compliance firm which now has offices in the US and UK specializing in the technology sector.