Skip Navigation
Skip to Menu Toggle Button
Online Guide to Writing and Research

The Writing Process

Prewriting

Targeting Your Audience

Isn’t your audience your professor? Many students assume that the instructor is the primary audience for their writing. While this is true, your assignment could call for you to write for different audiences—even hypothetical ones, such as professionals in your field of study or classmates. Sometimes it will be clear who your audience is going to be in your assignment instructions, and other times, investigating further will be necessary.  Click on the tabs below for more information.

 

Why is it important to know your audience?

Audience analysis is crucial to understanding what should go into each piece of writing. Knowing your audience guides you on how to structure your essay, what kind of language and tone to use, what sort of information to use, and how to progress into each topic. 

While the tone you use in academic writing will be different than when giving a speech, we tend to adjust our message according to who is listening during both. You would not cover learning theories developed by psychologists with a group of kindergarteners, just as you would not write about the health benefits of grass-fed beef to an audience of vegetarians.

Inquiring About Your Audience

To develop an audience profile, you need specific information about your audience—information about its understanding of and attitude toward your subject. When in doubt, always ask your professor, but below are some questions you can ask to probe further:

  • Who is my primary audience? 

  • What purpose will this writing serve for my readers? How will they use it?

  • Is my audience multicultural? 

  • What is my audience’s attitude toward and probable reaction to this writing?

  • Will readers expect certain patterns of thought in my writing? Will they need statistical data to be convinced? 

Implementation of Gathered Information

Once you have determined the answer to the questions on the previous tab, it is easier to plan content decisions:

  • how much information to convey

  • what kinds and levels of details to include 

  • what concepts to emphasize

  • how much time to spend on research 

  • what writing strategies to use

  • how to organize your information 

  • what words, tone, and style to use to communicate with your audience

Formal Writing Habits

Key Takeaways

  • Determining how to frame your writing according to the readers is a courtesy to them and you as a writer.
  • Knowing your audience guides you on how to structure your essay, what kind of language and tone to use, what sort of information to use, and how to progress into each topic. 
 


Mailing Address: 3501 University Blvd. East, Adelphi, MD 20783
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. © 2022 UMGC.
All links to external sites were verified at the time of publication. UMGC is not responsible for the validity or integrity of information located at external sites.

Table of Contents: Online Guide to Writing