Online College Courses for Credit

Determining Your Audience

Determining Your Audience

Author: Salimah Perkins
  1. Distinguish between the real and intended audience.

  2. Distinguish between general and specific audiences (e.g. graduate students in Psychology vs. students).

  3. Explain how the chosen audience can impact stylistic choices (tone, vocabulary, formality, etc.).

  4. Explain how to indicate or imply the chosen audience in the title or introduction (e.g. A teacher’s guide to incorporating technology in the classroom).

This packet should help a learner seeking to understand how to prepare to write a paper and who is confused about how to choose an audience. It will explain why it is important to determine the audience before writing the paper.

See More


Your real audience is anyone who happens to have access to your writing. Your intended audience is the person or people your work is specifically meant to address or impact.

Before you begin writing, ask yourself:

  • Who are my readers?
  • Why will they read my writing?
  • What will they need from me?
  • What do I want them to think or do after they read my writing?

Rapt Audience

Source: Salimah Perkins, The Little, Brown Handbook 10th Edition

Writing Capstone--Writing for the Reader

Instructor Michael Abernathy demonstrates the principles of writing for a target audience with clever examples and light humour.

Source: YouTube, Michael Abernathy

Who Is My Audience?

9-slide presentation differentiating real and intended audience; introduces concept of organization, formal and informal writing, specialized vocabulary, etc.

Source: Salimah Perkins

Using the Title of a Piece to Determine Intended Audience

In many cases, the title of a book, resource, article, etc., will give plenty of clues or definite information about the intended audiece.


Here are some examples:


A Writer's Guide to Marketing Your Work

[in this case, the title is used to let writers know that the information contained in the article, book, etc., is written with them in mind.]


Publisher's Weekly

Boy Scout Manual

Blogging for Dummies



Source: Salimah Perkins

Determining Your Audience

brief activity that reinforces principles from the PowerPoint presentation


Source: Salimah Perkins