Try to remember the last time you were writing an email to your instructor. You might have spent some time thinking about the content of a message. A letter structure, word choice, appropriate tone, details that create informative content – were these the components you took into consideration before composing an email? You definitely knew that it was important for you to persuade a professor while remaining polite and official. Now let’s think about the same information you often share online with your friends. Perhaps there is a noticeable difference in your writing choices.

No matter what you write, it’s necessary to remember that there is always a person who is going to read it, whether it’s an instructor, an official authority, a person who is interested in the same field of study, a supportive family member, or the writer him/herself. Indeed, audience defines the expectations and the results you may want to achieve. Arrange the information you are going to use, create a special mood, stick to a particular genre, adjust the style and language of an essay and your audience will greatly benefit from reading it.

I’ll provide you with some tips you may consider while determining the audience:

1. First, sum up all general information you can find about the reader.

What is the occupation or field of study of your intended audience? Do those people belong to a specific age category? Are they teenagers, adults, or even the elderly?

2. What cultural or geographical peculiarities do the groups of people you chose possess. Are you familiar with their religion, beliefs, and traditions? How can this affect the content of your paper?

3. Now, let’s discuss why these people would be interested in your topic. Does your topic address their needs or simply describe a situation they had or may experience in the future? Is your goal to change their views or appeal to them?

These aspects are vital for creating a well-structured paper. If your audience has little understanding of the topic you present, support the claim with specific details. However, don’t judge the actions of other people and try not to express too strong an opinion on a contradictory topic (unless it’s required by an instructor). It’s necessary to find a balance between your ideas and use accurate language to illustrate them. Ambiguous thoughts and irrelevant details you provide to people, who already know well this topic, can cause the loss of a reader.

4. Finally, think about the parts of your essay where your audience may agree or disagree. What makes you believe so?

By analyzing the questions stated above and imagining what knowledge and experience those people possess, you put yourself in a position to appeal to a specific audience. Often it is best not to consider your instructor as the only person interested in your writing. It may force you to avoid the details that your reader might need to know and therefore can create a weak or unclear piece of writing. Determine your audience, keep them in mind and you will experience better results. Remember that your language should be academic, concise, and sincere. Don’t try to please everyone, but by knowing your audience strive to become a master of words.

Writing Resources – UMUC
The Writing Center – UNC