The audience of a technical writing—or any piece of writing for that matter—is the intended or potential reader or readers. For most technical writers, this is the most important consideration in planning, writing, and reviewing a document. You “adapt” your writing to meet the needs, interests, and background of the readers who will be reading your writing. In reality, the lack of audience analysis and adaptation is one of the root causes of most of the problems you find in professional, technical documents—particularly instructions where it surfaces most glaringly.
Note: Once you’ve read this chapter on audiences, try using the audience planner. You fill in blanks with answers to questions about your audience and then e-mail it to yourself and, optionally, to your instructor. Use the audience planner for any writing project as a way of getting yourself to think about your audience in detail.