Writing Case Studies

Yesterday Matthew Stibbe at Bad Language wrote brilliantly about what is wrong in corporate case studies. If you are in corporate communications, read his ideas here.

Stibbe covers the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of case studies, also known as "white papers" where I live.

Among the symptoms: case studies are lifeless and have no story.

Among Stibbe’s thoughts on a diagnosis:

  • One size fits all–no thought of different audiences and media
  • Over-loaded content–too much stuff packed in
  • Overzealous brand policing–things like "You can’t say that" and "You must do this."

Among his treatment steps:

  • Remember the audience
  • Use one case study in multiple presentations: newsletter, booklet, etc.
  • Tell more story

Because he says it so well, you must read his piece. (I have added to his lean prose above.) And while you are visiting Bad Language, take time to browse. You will learn something about business writing–not only in what he says but in how stylishly he says it.



  1. White Papers are not the same as Case Studies… A Case Study is more about a “success story” & casual whereas a W.P. is more formal & focused on solving a specific dilemma with a mild sales pitch near the end…

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