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Intended Audience

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English

When writing, do you ever think about who you are writing for? What if only your teacher will be reading your work? While a teacher might be your actual audience, it helps to imagine an 'intended audience' when writing.

The intended audience is the audience you imagine might read your work. After all, there are many different types of people who would be interested in what you have to say! Identifying an intended audience is important because it shapes what you write and how you write it.

Intended Audience Meaning

The intended audience is the person or group of people a writer has in mind as potential readers for their work.

Think of the intended audience as the person or people you are writing for. They are the reader you imagine in your head. Sometimes this is a real person you know. Sometimes it's a group of people you imagine would read your work. Intended Audience, The Unidentified Reader, StudySmarter

The Unidentified Reader, Elizabeth Brownlow -

StudySmarter Originals

For instance, you might write an essay persuading your school principal to extend the lunch period. The principal is your real audience.

Or you might write an essay explaining cell phone history to high school students. In this case, high school students are an imaginary audience; you don't know exactly who they are.

Whether real or imaginary, the intended audience is who you should always think about when writing.

Important of identifying Intended Audience

It is important to know who you are writing to so you can achieve your purpose for writing. When you know who you are writing for or to, it's easier to figure out what to say. Let's look at the different ways the intended audience can help you write your essay.

Identifying the intended audience helps with:

Establishing Purpose

When writing, it's important to consider your purpose.

The purpose of an essay is the effect you want your writing to have on the reader.

The purpose of your essay determines what you will write. Your purpose might be to persuade the reader to take action. Or your purpose might be to explain how something works. Identifying your intended audience can help you decide on your purpose for writing.

Let's say your Intended Audience is an imaginary group of people interested in reading The Great Gatsby. Your purpose would be to describe the novel to an audience that is unfamiliar with it.

But what if your intended audience is a group of people who have read The Great Gatsby? Your purpose might be to explain your analysis of the novel's setting to an audience that is familiar with it.

Choosing the Right Words

Identifying the intended audience can help you choose the right words when writing. You would use different words to explain something to a student than a member of Congress. The audience's age, location, and level of expertise determine what kind of wording makes the most sense.

Taking the Right Tone

The intended audience also helps you establish the tone of your essay.

The tone is a writer's attitude toward their subject and intended audience. You can think of tone as the "voice" of an essay.

Knowing who you are writing for is key to deciding what attitude to take in your writing. For example, you don't want to sound angry when trying to persuade your school principal to extend the lunch period.

Selecting Important Information

To achieve the right balance of information in your essay, consider the intended audience. What are they likely to know and not know about your subject? Knowing your audience can help you decide which information is important, and which information you can leave out.

You are describing the history of mass transit in your city. If your intended audience is the general public, they may not be familiar with your city. You would need to include background information on the city. If your intended audience is a group of citizens living in your city, you would not need that background information. They would likely already know it.

Using Effective Examples and Comparisons

Identifying your intended audience can also help you relate to them. Use only comparisons, examples, or metaphors, your intended audience is familiar with.

You are persuading your classmates to vote for you as class president. You could use examples of how you have been a leader in the past. You might mention the petition you started to add healthier options to the snack vending machines. Since your intended audience already knows about these examples, you are more likely to persuade them.

Types of intended audience

Intended audiences can be individuals, groups of people, or the general public. Whether your intended audience is real or imaginary, they probably fall into one of these categories. Let's explore these three types of intended audiences and look at some examples.

Examples of Different intended audiences

Type of Intended AudienceDescriptionExamples

Individual

An individual audience is one specific person. This individual might be real or imaginary.When writing for an individual audience:Consider who they are and how you want them to respond to your work. Parents, teachers, school leaders, friends, peers, coworkersPresident of the United States, editor of a newspaper, superintendent of a school district group

Group

A Group Audience is a collection of people. This group might share a common interest, age group, location, or another trait. You can also define a group audience by their connection to the subject you are writing about. When writing for a group audience:Consider what this group of people is likely to know about and respond to in your work. American teachers, high school students, members of Congress, parents of children with disabilities, comic book fans, New YorkersExperts in your essay's subject, people who have read the text you are analyzing, people who have never heard of your subject

General Public

A General Public Audience is the wider community that does not fall into one single group. You cannot know what the general public already knows about your subject because you do not know who they are. When writing for a general audience:Make the essay easy for anyone to understand. Assume the audience is not familiar with your subject. Everybody, Anyone, People on the internet

Identifying Intended Audience

You can use your purpose, essay prompt, and educated guesses to identify the intended audience. Follow the steps below to decide who your intended audience is. Then, write with the intended audience in mind!

Intended Audience, Intended Audience Identification Flowchart, StudySmarter

Intended Audience Identification Flowchart, Elizabeth Brownlow - StudySmarter Originals

Steps to identify the intended audience

1. Think about your purpose

Take a moment to think about the purpose of your essay. What is the effect you want to have on the audience? Do you want to persuade them? Explain or describe something to them? Educate them on an aspect of a text?

2. Find clues in the essay prompt

The essay prompt you are given might give you clues to the intended audience. For example, it might state that you are writing a letter to a congressman or educating the general public on the history of your town.

Look for these clues in your essay prompt. Does it tell you who you are supposed to be writing for? If so, this is your intended audience.

3. Imagine who would be interested

If your essay prompt does not specify an intended audience, come up with your own! Who would be interested in your essay's subject matter?

Consider your purpose when imagining an intended audience. For instance, when writing an analysis of The Bell Jar, people who have read the novel would be the intended audience.

3. Decide what type of audience you are writing for

Use the information from Steps 1-3 to determine what type of audience you are writing for. Is your intended audience an Individual, a group, or the general public? Are they real or imaginary? Use the table above entitled "Types of Intended Audiences with examples" to help you decide.

4. Get specific!

Take a moment to think about exactly who your audience is. Write down some quick notes about them. Be as specific as possible about who they are. Think about age, location, interests, and familiarity with your subject.

The intended audience for your analysis of The Bell Jar is people who have read the novel. But what age are they? Where are they from? How well are they likely to know this novel? You might narrow down your audience with these questions.

Specific Intended Audience: American high schoolers who have read The Bell Jar and know it very well.

You did it! You identified your intended audience. You narrowed it down and got specific. Now it's time to use this knowledge to write your essay.

While writing the essay, ask yourself in-depth questions about the intended audience. The more you think about your intended audience, the stronger your writing will be!

These questions will guide you in your writing choices.:

  • How is my audience similar to me? How are they different?
  • What does my audience already know about this topic?
  • What does my audience still need to know about this topic?
  • Which terms do I need to define for my audience?
  • Which examples or comparisons would my audience understand?
  • What tone would my audience respond to? Formal? Casual? Technical?
  • What does my audience value most about this subject? What do they value least?

Intended Audience- Key Takeaways

  • The intended audience is the person or group of people a writer has in mind as potential readers for their work.
  • Whether real or imaginary, the intended audience is who you should always think about when writing.
  • It is important to know who you are writing to so you can achieve your purpose for writing.
  • Identifying the intended audience can help with establishing your purpose, choosing the right words, taking the right tone, selecting important information, and using effective examples and comparisons.
  • There are three major types of intended audience: individuals, groups, and the general public.
  • To identify your intended audience, you need to establish your purpose, consult the essay prompt and/or your imagination, decide what type of audience you are writing for, and get specific about who they are.

Intended Audience

An intended audience is the person or group of people a writer has in mind as potential readers for their work. 

To identify your Intended Audience, you need to establish your purpose, consult the essay prompt and/or your imagination, decide what type of audience you are writing for, and get specific about who they are.

An example of an Intended Audience is people who have read the text you are analyzing.

It is important to identify the Intended Audience so you can achieve your purpose for writing.

The types of Intended Audience are: Individual, Group, and the General Public.

Final Intended Audience Quiz

Question

What is an Intended Audience? 

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Answer

An intended audience is the person or group of people a writer has in mind as potential readers for their work.

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Question

Identifying the Intended Audience can help with: 

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Answer

Establishing Purpose

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Question

What is the tone of an essay?

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Answer

The tone is a writer's attitude toward their subject and intended audience. Think of tone as the "voice" of an essay.

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Question

When writing, use ONLY  ______, ______, or _____ the Intended Audience is familiar with.

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Answer

comparisons

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Question

The 3 types of Intended Audiences are:

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Answer

Individual

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Question

What are some examples of an individual audience?

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parent

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What are some examples of a group audience?

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American teachers

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True or False: 

When writing for a General Public audience, it is safe to assume they are familiar with the subject.

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Answer

False

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Question

What is the first step in identifying the Intended Audience?

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Answer

The first step in identifying the Intended Audience is establishing the purpose of the essay.

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Where can one look for clues to identify the Intended Audience?

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Answer

One can look to the essay prompt for clues to identify the Intended Audience.

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Question

If the essay prompt gives no clues, what can be done to identify the Intended Audience?

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Answer

If the essay prompt gives no clues, imagine who would be interested in the subject matter to determine the Intended Audience.

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Question

What specifics are important to consider when identifying an Intended Audience?

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Answer

age

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True or False: 

It is important to be as specific as possible when identifying the Intended Audience.

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Answer

True: The specifics help with the writing.

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Question

When writing for a group audience, what should one consider?

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Answer

When writing for a group audience, one should consider what this group of people is likely to know about and respond to in the essay.

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Question

What is the purpose of an essay?

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Answer

The purpose of an essay is the effect the writer wants to have on the reader.

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Question

Why is it important to identify the Intended Audience?

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Answer

It is important to identify the Intended Audience so one can achieve their purpose for writing.

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Question

True or False: 

The Intended Audience can be real or imaginary.

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Answer

True

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