Re: Audience Awareness

Subject: Re: Audience Awareness
From: Jan Boomsliter <boom -at- CADENCE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 1994 13:10:24 -0800

First rule of writing: know your audience.

For tech writers, it's probably the first four rules. To write
effective manuals, references, and similar instructional material, we
have to know how people learn. We must know our audience in order to
know the ways that this particular group of people learns. Only then
can we select the method of presenting information to them.

Jan Boomsliter

David writes:

Personaly, I've never found "audience awareness" to
be useful. If I'm not clearly explaining the material to begin with, then
being aware of my audience isn't going to help. I am not aware of this

...However, I believe that audience awareness, "vocabulary, content level,
visuals, even type size" cannot substitute for clear and concise writing.

Audience *defines* clear and concise writing. What is necessary
background for an undergrad is maddeningly superflous for a PhD.; the
interface between the application and the system software, while
important to a technician, is so much extra baggage to the data entry
clerk. Procedures you can cover in a single sentence for an experienced
operator must be carefully spelled out for the newbie.

While I agree that pompus phrasing, tangled sentence structure and bloated
vocabulary should be eliminated wherever possible, that alone does not
make writing clear and concise for a given audience. Only understanding
what the audience needs and when they will need it will allow you to be
truly "clear and concise."

Doug "Women are designed for long,
ENGSTROMDD -at- phibred -dot- com miserable lives, whereas men are
designed for short, violent ones."
- Estelle Ramey

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