Determine the Audience

Your audience is your readers. For many college writing assignments, your instructor is the only reader. Often though, instructors will ask you to write as if the audience included a specific group. The tone, organization, and format of your work are all influenced by your audience’s expectations. As professionals and in your personal life, you will adjust your writing for the particular needs of your readers; college writing assignments let you practice that skill.

To find a possible audience, ask yourself these questions:

Consider how these questions suggest potential audiences for a paper on the impacts of legalizing marijuana.

Questions Possible Audiences
Who cares about this topic?
  • Strong supporters
  • Strong detractors
  • Legislators (national, state, local)
Who is affected by this topic?
  • Patients
  • Doctors
  • Insurance companies
  • Criminals, lawyers, and judges
  • Law enforcement
  • drug traffickers
  • farmers
  • USDA
  • IRS
  • Transport industry
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Addiction recovery programs
Who is not well-informed about this topic?
  • Many voters, especially older citizens who tend to vote in higher percentages than younger voters
  • People who may be afraid of increased addiction

As this chart shows, many audiences could be interested in learning more about the issues related to legalizing marijuana. Your task is to find the audience that best fits the assignment and your own goals. For example, if you watch any of the reality TV shows about truck drivers, you might find it interesting to learn about how the transport of medicinal marijuana occurs now and how it might change as the laws change.

Once you have a chosen an audience, you’ll want to figure out what those readers expect of you. Begin that inquiry with these questions:

You will revisit these considerations about your audience throughout the writing process.