Understanding Writing Situations

What Influences the Reader?

Readers will be influenced by a number of factors as they read a document. Their interest in a particular topic will affect their decision to read -- or not read -- a given document. Similarly, their needs will also affect their willingness to read a document.

Reader's values and beliefs will also influence their reading of a document. Writers who do not take their readers' values and beliefs into account might miss an opportunity to create a more convincing, useful, or acceptable document. Worse, they might offend their readers -- and increase the chances that their readers will not finish the document.

Readers' knowledge of a particular topic will also affect their reading of a document. When writers assume that readers know more about a topic than they actually do, they can create a document that is difficult to understand. When they assume their readers know less than they actually do, they risk creating documents that repeat information readers already know. In both cases, readers are likely to stop reading the document.

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Introduction