Once you have selected a topic for your college paper and determined how you will approach the subject, whether you take an analytical or an argumentative approach, it’s time now to identify your audience. By defining your audience, you can more effectively determine the kind of style to use and what information to include or to leave out. You wouldn’t write the same paper to your friends as you would to an audience of medical professionals, would you? The information you share and the tone you use would change.
Your audience will likely be somewhere between your professor and the larger academic or public community. In some cases, your professor may have already selected the audience for you, even though in many cases your professor may be the only reader. It’s always a good rule of thumb to write your paper as though you are addressing a specific audience and one that has some basic grasp of the subject, such as an audience of fellow students. Having said that, it can be helpful to you find out the likes or dislikes of your professor, as if they were reading the paper over your shoulder.
Ask yourself these questions.
To help you further narrow the audience down for your college paper, here are some examples of questions to ask yourself to go about the process. First, ask yourself what specific activities does your topic describe and who would benefit from, or be interested in, the paper. Then ask questions such as:
Does the assignment itself give any clues as to the likely identity of your audience?
Who can influence the activities of your paper or may have a relationship to the topic you are describing?
What are the demographic characteristics of those who your paper relates to, and do these characteristics indicate that you have any shared experiences, values or prejudices with the group?
Does your topic have a specific or general interest to this demographic group and what would they want to know about your topic?
How much knowledge of your topic does this group already possess and what effect do you want your paper to have on them?
Is it possible to create further interest in your topic among members of this group and are they the only group that may comprise your audience?
Will the members of this demographic group agree with the conclusion of your paper? Will you be able to develop counter-arguments to any possible disagreements they may have with your conclusion?
By asking and answering these questions you will be better able to identify your audience. By identifying them, you now have a better sense of which aspects of your paper need detailed explanations and which aspects you can expect your audience to be familiar with. If you still have doubts about your audience, discuss it with your professor.
Follow the proper formatting styles.
Once you have decided upon your audience, it’s very important that you follow the correct formatting style. Your audience will have expectations of how your citations should appear within your paper based upon the writing format given to you by your professor. Formatting styles could be APA, MLA or another. To ensure that your paper follows the proper guidelines and save time during the editing process, you can using formatting software.
David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. For more information, log onto http://www.referencepointsoftware.com/ or write to:
info @ referencepointsoftware.com
Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).