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Who's my audience? How to engage your readers

Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style.

-- Matthew Arnold

1. The book "Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace" (9th Edition) by Joseph M. Williams is a classic that I recommend to anyone who wants to explore the following questions:

* What is it in sentences that make readers judge writing as they do?
* How can we diagnose our own prose to anticipate their judgments?
* How can we revise a sentence so that readers will think better of it?

Williams offers a series of principles -- not prescriptions or formulas -- that can help you become a better writer. For an overview of his approach, and some hands-on practice analyzing and correcting problematic writing, work through the following PPT presentation entitled "Audience-centered writing."

click here to download "Audience-centered writing" presentation

2. This handout from the UNC-Chapel Hill Writing Center may help you think about:

* How do I identify my audience and what they want from me?
* How much should I explain?
* How can I read as a writer?
* How can I read as a reader?


3. Once you have a clear sense of who your audience is, you may need to adjust your style accordingly. Here is another handout from the UNC-Chapel Hill Writing Center that may help.