What information, as it relates to what I'm writing, does the audience already
Is my audience more familiar or unfamiliar to me? Do I know them well? Do they
know me well?
Is there anything about which I am writing that needs explanation?
Will my audience expect me to be casual, friendly, familiar, or professional in my
Familiarity With Your Audience
In a classroom setting, you know your audience is your instructor and, often, your
classmates. In this case, you know your intended audience (your instructor and your
classmates), but your relationship with them is more formal and less familiar. As such,
you cannot assume what level of familiarity they can expect in your writing.
Therefore, you should err on the side of formality any time your audience is unfamiliar
and/or when the level of formality they expect from you may be unknown. When you
write for a classroom assignment, you should always assume your instructor will expect
a level of formality—unless the assignment explicitly asks you to be informal—
regardless of how well you might know him or her.
It is, therefore, important to understand if your audience is:
familiar and known:
a family member, a close friend, your partner or spouse
unfamiliar and known:
an audience who has come to listen to you talk about a
shared interest (you share knowledge of the interest but do not known them
personally), your college instructor (you know your instructor and are familiar with
her but you do not know what she knows and does not know about any given
topic), a new colleague, your boss, a distant relative, museum attendees