Writing for the Reader

When writing any document, it is important to consider the knowledge, experience, reading ability and level of interest of your reader.

Some of the main issues to be considered are:

  1. Using language that is appropriate for the reader
  2. Provide content of the document that is appropriate for the reader
  3. Maintaining the interest of the reader

Using appropriate language

The term "appropriate language" refers to:

When writing "business documents" there is often a need to cater for a diversity of language skills. For example, work instructions must be written in simple easy-to-understand language. If the language used in work instructions and procedures is complex including words that may be unfamiliar to the reader, the document is in danger of being ineffective. There's no use in writing procedures that the ordinary worker cannot understand.

On the other hand, a business proposal will be read by people who will likely expect a high standard of language, and who will appreciate the use of specific technical terms.

It is, of course, quite hard for authors to adapt their use of written language according to the needs of the reader. It takes time and practice. Nevertheless, it is something to keep in mind always when writing.

Providing appropriate content

It is critically important for authors to ensure that their document provides information that is appropriate for the level of knowledge of the reader. In a business context, authors need to carefully evaluate whether there are passages of text that have little or no value to the reader. For example, business managers would find little value in reading multiple paragraphs about business principles that are common knowledge in the business world. In such a circumstance, there is a danger that the reader may be irritated to read what they already know and will likely lose patience and stop reading.

Students, when creating business documents as an academic assignment, commonly make the error of writing "what they know". The act of creating the document is more about writing for the teacher who will mark the document and as a result there is a failure to demonstrate a capability to write appropriately for a business context.

It is better for authors to be quite tough and remove information of doubtful value. This helps the author to focus the attention of the reader on what is important, and also saves time.

Maintaining the interest of the reader

In addition to providing appropriate content, there are other strategies available to authors to maintain the interest of the reader. There is often plenty of opportunity for authors to include graphical content in business documents including illustrations, pictures, cartoons, diagrams and charts. The inclusion of graphical content can greatly assist the understanding of the reader. Furthermore, and graphical content can also add to the overall attractiveness of the document provided the author has the software skills to accomplish the layout features.


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