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The way you design your written work also depends on who is going to read it. If you are writing a lab report, it is appropriate and it may even be necessary to use charts and tables. Or if you are submitting a written course project or a portfolio, you need to think about how your audience will navigate the contents of your materials, so perhaps the table of contents could be quite helpful. Your audience may also determine the way(s) you will deliver your written work. Think about what media better fits the purpose of your message: oral presentation, electronic format, or print. You can also use a combination of media.

In short, when are communicating a written message, you should always keep in mind your audience. Consider the following list of questions as a checklist that will help you target your writing to a particular audience and construct your writing accordingly:

  • Whom are you writing to?
  • What is your audience’s life background? Are they educated? Do they have certain life experiences that may affect what and how you address them in your writing?
  • Are they “insiders” (they are your professional peers or they are familiar with the area that you are describing) or “outsiders” to your topic (they are not familiar with the field you are writing in)?
  • Are you aware of demographic characteristics of your readers (e.g., gender, race, age, sexual orientation, political views, religious beliefs, social and economic status, etc.)?
  • What is your relationship with your audience? Are you friends with them? Are they your colleagues? Peers? Professors? Potential employers? Strangers? Your opponents?
  • How do you think they will accept your message?
  • What reaction are you expecting from your audience? Do you want them to make a decision, enter into a debate, or take some form of action?
  • What do you think your audience expects from you and your message?

Although this list is not exhaustive, it will help you be aware of your audience, and it will also help you avoid violations that may occur as a result of a lack of knowledge or even ignorance about his or her readers.