Analysis of the document's audience involves answering questions like these:
The most common categories of audience are primary and secondary; however, we find it easy to think of many more audience types. Here is a list that works well enough for class work purposes. Depending on the stakes involved in the document situation, writers may write an analysis for each audience type they need to consider when designing a document.
|Authorizing Audience||The person or group who gives the order for the document to be written. This audience will serve as one possible gatekeeper and often will evaluate the document for quality and meeting the organization's guidelines. Generally the authorizing audience is a boss who requests the document.|
|Gatekeeper Audience||The person or group who reviews and authorizes editing changes, who provides subject-matter expert advice, who authorizes (or not) the release of the document for publication|
|Primary or Target Audience||The person or group to whom the document is addressed and who will make a decision to accept or reject the document's thesis. Their decisions might be positive (accepting) or negative (rejecting).|
|Secondary Audience||Secondary audiences are those who will make decisions about the document's content after the primary audience has made the the initial decision.
For example, a secondary audience is a person or group to whom the document is not addressed but who will be implementing the document's content after the primary audience agrees with the recommendations presented in the document.
Other secondary audiences may include those involved in legal matters, possibly years later, such as lawyers, judges, and juries.
|Watchdog Audience or Power Readers||Power readers are those people or organizations who may act either favorably or unfavorably as a reaction to the document. Examples include environmentalist organizations reacting to a new law or regulation published by a government agency, journalists who may report on the document with a favorable or unfavorable slant, or customers, suppliers, stockholders, and other stakeholders|
|Affected Audience||Affected readers are those impacted by the primary audience's decision but who have no direct power over the situation.
A vivid example are residents whose water supply is poisoned because they live down-river from a polluting manufacturing plant.
Other examples could include customers, suppliers, stockholders, and other stakeholders.
Note. Some people may be affected by the decision but never see the document.
Sample format decisions based on an audience analysis:
|Medium||Paper, electronic, word document, Power Point, HTM, plastic protected, cardboard, spiral bound to lay flat, single sheets, folded sheet|
|Organization||Advantage/Disadvantage, Cause/Effect, Chronological, Compare/Contrast, Problem/Solution, Sequential, Spatial, Topical|
|Type/Genre||email; twitter,memo; letter; flyer; newsletter with columns; report with cover page, table of contents, appendices, and references|
|Layout||length (word count); space (number of pages); solid text or text with graphics; headings & white space; line and paragraph spacing/leading; indentation; font family/size/color/type; margins/gutters/orientation/header & footer; plain or letterhead; vertical or horizontal alignments; top-to-bottom-left-to-right reading or other|
Sample content decisions based on an audience analysis:
|Style||Formal (professional: academic, business, or technical) or informal (personal)|
|Tone||Reader centered/writer centered, confident, courteous, stern, sincere, respectful, non-discriminatory|
|Language||Use of jargon, technical terms, and "big words"|
|Visuals||Selection of information, order of information, data presentation (text, table, or figure), illustrations|
|Evidence||Testimony from experts, facts from valid research studies (what is accepted as valid and what not?), poll results, opinions of famous people, appeals to emotion|
What can you learn about your audience by spending some time imagining yourself in their place as they are reading your document?
Ida L. Rodgers, See terms on Course Style Guide Home page.