What assumptions do you make about your readers?


When it comes to writing, one thing I’ve often struggled with is knowing what assumptions to make about what my readers understand about the topic. Assuming that your readers know very little about your topic will naturally lead you to write more background information to bring your readers up to speed. However, the readers who are already familiar with the topic may be bored and stop reading. On the other hand, assuming your readers are very familiar with a topic may lead you to leave out details, and brush over some concepts. Readers who aren’t as familiar may become lost, and stop reading. Finding the right balance in the assumptions you make about your readers can be difficult.

As a writer, Is this something you are conscious of, and where do you find yourself on the spectrum? Do you usually assume your audience knows very little, or do you assume most of your readers are experts?

As a reader, what do you prefer? Would you rather just have overviews of topics, and Google search what you are lost on? Or do you like every concept, no matter how small, covered in detail?

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One thing I often find some writers do is they prompt expert readers to jump ahead some paragraphs…with cues such as…

“If you know what a cryptocurrency is, skip to…If not, read on.”

That way, both audiences are served. Obviously at the cost of having to add many more such disclaimers if the article lays groundwork for lot of new fundamentals.

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