Writing for Laypersons
A layperson is one who does not possess the technical knowledge of an expert or a technician. Thus, all of us
read some documents as laypersons; no one is an expert in all fields.
Levels of Knowledge
Do not assume a layperson has a technical background. Unless you know that all members of your
audience will understand a technical term or concept, explain it carefully, using examples and
analogies with which the reader is familiar.
Some lay audiences can be classified as novices, persons who do not yet possess technical expertise
in a field but are in the process of acquiring it. Technical textbooks at different levels, for example,
are written to audiences that are starting out as laypersons but may become experts.
Purposes in Using Document
Laypersons read technical and scientific documents for a variety of purposes:
Strategies for Writing to Laypersons
- Present extensive background information in your
- Organize information from the familiar to the unfamiliar.
- Simplify information to the level sufficient for the audience's purpose in using the document.
- Explain all technical terms.
- Illustrate and explain technical terms and concepts with analogies (e.g., "Your hard disk is like an attic; if it is
too full, you may have trouble retrieving a specific item,") and anecdotes.
See Document Density.
## Writing for Laypersons ##
[ Home | Table of Contents
| Writing Timeline | Index |
Help | Credits]