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And Your Audience Is…?

February 10, 2014

Read All about It

by: Morgan Pruitt

As a college student writer, you have an audience. Yes, you are a writer, and yes, you have an audience whether you want one or not. How do you know for whom you are writing? Is it your professor? What does “audience” even mean? In this case, your audience is any person who will read your work. The first audience you have is you. You are your own reader. Other people in your audience will depend on the situation. If you are writing for a class, your audience will include your professor and possibly your classmates. If you are writing for an internship, a group of professionals might read your essay. Locating your audience encourages you to address assumptions in your writing and clarify your ideas. To begin, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my topic?
  • Why am I writing about this topic?
  • What are the expectations of the assignment?
    • You may have a prompt to respond to or a set of goals that you must meet in order to fulfill the assignment.
  • What is my purpose?
    • To inform, to persuade, or to entertain. Knowing this answer assists you in knowing what kinds of information to include about your topic.

Answering these questions allows you to consider your readers as you draft your writing. When it is time to revise, you can focus on other issues that may hinder or help the audience. Every genre is different, but some common principles remain the same throughout your writing. The following points are things to consider as you revise:

  • Avoid slang and use jargon thoughtfully  No-Slang
    • “Y’all,” “over yonder,” and similar phrases are a part of dialogue, but most academic writing needs to be formal. In addition, if you use jargon (language specific to the topic), make sure to use it thoughtfully. Business jargon is more acceptable in a senior seminar economics course than if you were writing the same paper for a freshmen composition course.
  • Address assumptions
    • If you are thinking, “Everyone knows that [fill in a concept],” you may want to explain what it is you think everyone knows. For example, if I were writing about film, I might not explain what a movie is, but I should explain the concept of cinematography.
  • Use transitions
    • This detail helps your readers follow your thoughts. For example: “First, I want to present my argument. Second, I want to address Dr. Owl’s argument. I agree with him with on many points. On the other hand, I have found a few gaps in his explanation…”
  • Get feedback
    • Having another set of eyes to read your work will certainly help you understand your strongest and weakest arguments.

Concerning this final point, the University Writing Center is available to give you feedback on your writing at any stage. The best way to understand an audience is by having one. The University Writing Center is available to be your audience and to support you in your writing. You can check out the hours and how to make an appointment here. Happy writing!


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