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The Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
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Section 1.4.3

Audience Attitudes Toward Writer and Subject

As you think about your document's content and organization, consider your audience's attitudes toward both you and the subject matter.

Attitude Toward You and Your Organization

If your audience views you as an expert, in some situations you may not need to offer lengthy explanations for your conclusions and recommendations. When we go to a doctor, for example, we do not always ask for a detailed explanation of a diagnosis or procedure. Similarly, a reader of a technical manual written by the manufacturer is likely to accept a statement of the possible causes of a certain type of error without further explanation. Because the reader trusts the accuracy of the manufacturer, no explanation is necessary.

On the other hand, if the audience does not know you or does not consider you an expert, or if the reader has had past negative experience with you or your organization, the document should include extensive explanations of your conclusions and recommendations to create trust and establish credibility.

Audience Interest in Subject

Your audience's interest in your document's content will affect its organization. If your audience is already interested in your subject, you may be able to shorten your introduction. If your audience is not interested in your subject or if you do not know the level of their interest, explain why the material in the document is important to the reader.

Audience Attitude Toward Subject

If your audience initially may be hostile to your major conclusions, you may want to present the problem first, then your analysis, then your conclusions or recommendations. On the other hand, if you believe your audience to be receptive to your conclusions (especially if your audience is a manager), begin with conclusions and recommendations.

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