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SPARK: Your Reader

A resource for students wanting to improve their academic and research skills.

Your Reader

Because so much of our writing is done without the presence of anyone else, a lot of times we forget that there is someone who is going to be reading our work, and that we need to think about how that person will be able to navigate what we've written. Especially when you are revising, it is important to think about the person who will read your work. 

Sometimes an instructor will specify a particular audience as an aspect of the assignment. For example, writing a recommendation to a school board about the best policy to adopt in its schools regarding a certain issue. In cases like this, it's helpful to imagine your audience and consider the questions they are likely to have, the information they need and the kind of arguments that they are likely to find convincing.

Review the sections below to learn more about addressing the needs of your reader for clarity and significance.



When you're working on a paper, it's important that you make sure your reader is going to know where your paper is going in terms of organization.

One of the most useful strategies is to think about using transitional words and phrases. Words such as “therefore,” “however,” “moreover,” “in other words” and “for example” help your reader see the relationships among your ideas and keep track of where your paper is headed.

When you are using sources and you want to mention them in your paper, you can use attribution words. For example, “Jones claims that…,” “Stevenson speculates that…,” “Levesque concedes that…” and “Plesa disputes that…” These will help your reader understand the relationship between the authors you're referring to and the ideas being discussed.

To make your work as reader friendly as you can, make sure the words you've chose are as precise as possible, and that they convey exactly what you mean. Check for misused words and unnecessary repetitions. 

Check for any unnecessary repetitions, so as to avoid boring or confusing your reader.


As you develop your sentences into paragraphs and make progress in considering how well these will be understood by your audience, you will have the essence of a first draft of the body of the essay. A valuable question to ask at this point is “So what?” A good essay will help the reader understand why the ideas, issues and arguments discussed there actually matter. Try to make sure you have an answer in your essay for the reader who asks the so-what question.

Learning to see your writing through someone else’s eyes is difficult and takes practice. A helpful tactic, once you have a draft with which you are fairly satisfied, is to step back and forget about it for a day or two; the distance gained allows you a better chance of viewing the paper more objectively and from the perspective of another reader.