Let the Audience Be Your Guide


Readers truly dictate everything about your document: word choice, voice, length of document, information to include, tone. Taking the time to pinpoint your audience will pay off because it will inform all of your decisions while writing. (Note: Merely thinking about your audience doesn’t really count — you have to write it down!)

Identify the audience of your document early in the writing process. Different readers have different needs that your writing must address. For example, a public outreach document for a geologic survey will be quite different than the report submitted to the regulating agency. The study area is the same, and both documents reflect the findings of the project. The difference is the audience!

In addition to focusing on the specific needs of the audience, keep the knowledge level and topic background of your readers top-of-mind. Back to the geology example, laypeople interested in geology or invested in the study area would likely get frustrated with terms like MORs, strata, vertical exaggeration, and metamorphic petrology. However, reviewers at the USGS would be intimately familiar with this language and breeze through it.

Identifying your audience is an important step; from the overall design of your document to the tiniest details, let your audience guide you through your writing.

For more about audience, contact us. Hurley Write, Inc. can help you define your audience and therefore increase the effectiveness of your writing. We will share our best practices for developing an audience rubric that will guide your documents.