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To answer this question, it may be best to ask yourself a few questions. Think of yourself as a reader and consider:
- What kind of tone do you enjoy most when you read? A conversational tone, an academic tone, a journalistic tone?
- What kind of publications do you read? Magazines, online newspapers, blogs, books?
- What kind of tone do you encounter in the publications you most enjoy or the ones you are drawn to?
- What kind of literary devices, techniques or elements of style do you respond to? Thought-provoking metaphors? Clarifying anecdotes? Direct examples? Poetic language?
These questions can be helpful in considering the nature of your audience:
- What age group are you writing for (if any in particular)? (What language/vocabulary/level of sophistication is most appropriate for this age group?)
- Are you writing for experts, an informed audience, or readers with little knowledge of the subject?
The first key is to know your audience. Then you know how to talk to them. You do not want to talk to all audiences the same way. You don't want to talk up or talk down to people. If you know who you are speaking to and how they speak, you'll be more engaging.
I agree with post 3 that you need to know your audience. Certain topics will be more appealing to certain audiences. For instance, an article about nuclear fission wouldn't appeal to most teens but it would appear to particular scientists. In the same respect, certain language will appear to certain audiences more than others. Aside from formal and informal standards, the language itself must be appropriate to the target audience. If I were to write an article using medical jargon, my target audience should be someone in the medical field. The same language would be confusing and unintelligible to a layperson. On the other hand, that same article written in layman's terms would be almost insulting to a medical professional. Your language should neither talk down to nor rise too far above your target audience.
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