Author, Audience, and Purpose

It’s vital to understand the author’s reasons for writing.

What appeals does the author make to convince the reader? Learn how to identify these factors and become a better reader.

When we start to read a text, our minds should go to work right away and try to determine who did write the text, who’s the text for, and why the text was written.

Knowing this information may change the way you’ll be interpreting the text. If you do it this way, you’ll be thinking about our most fundamental elements of the reading process: the author, the audience, and the purpose.

The Author

The author is the person who’s been writing the piece. It is key to understand the writer (author) of a piece of text because that may change your interpretation of the text.

If you, for example, are looking to find information about a certain medical condition, one of your friends may come up with some advice, but if that will be contradicting the advice from a well-respected medical professional, you may consider disregarding your friend’s information.

Information about the author can be found in several places.

Most commonly, it can be found at the beginning of books or, with articles, at the beginning or at the end. In academic essays, it is often found in the header and on the essay’s title page. In textual pieces published by organizations, institutions, or corporations, you may not find an individual author, but then, the institution is considered as the author.

The Audience

The audience is the one the writer is expecting to read his or her text. Please note that you don’t need to be the author’s primary audience for the text. The audience for pieces of text doesn’t need to be the same as the ones reading it.

Writers are not always in the position to control who’ll be reading their work. When authors are composing their readings, however, they usually will do so with a certain type of reader in their minds. If an author knows his audience, he may better use specific details, language, or some examples to directly address that audience.

When you don’t belong to his intended audience, you may have difficulty comprehending the piece.

What helps to determine the targeted audience is identifying the location of the reading.

An article, for example, in Seventeen magazine will generally be intended for teenaged girls, whereas a piece in the American Journal of Developmental Education will probably be intended for administrators or faculty of college-level developmental programs, and they will be educated at the college level and often have some advanced degree.

The Purpose

The purpose tells us why the writer has chosen the topic. All writers have a purpose (reason) to write about a certain topic. You may determine the author’s purpose of writing a passage by asking the question, “Why would the writer tell me this?” or “What would the writer want me to understand when I’ve read this?”

An author’s primary purpose generally can be placed into one of 3 (three) categories: to persuade, to inform, or to entertain.

Persuade: If an author writes a persuasive piece of text, he or she is trying to convince the audience that their arguments or ideas have merit. An author’s persuasive writing will be debatable. The writer would like to prove that a certain thing or things “should not/must not” or “should/must” be done. Opinion sections of newspapers are good examples of persuasive writing.

Inform: When writing an informational or informative piece, the writer will be focused on facts. Typically, in this type of piece, you’ll find no bias. Encyclopedias are good examples of this type of informative writing.

Entertain: When an author writes an entertaining piece, he or she is looking to interest or amuse the reader. An entertaining piece isn’t necessarily always silly or light. They may also be very exciting or sad. Short stories and novels are both entertaining writing types.

Because authors often will incorporate multiple purposes in their writing, it is key to focus on the primary purpose of the author.

Authors will, for example, often include pieces of information in persuasive texts or make informative pieces a bit entertaining for their audience.

1. What’s the author’s purpose in the following selection?

The giant panda is a bearlike animal that has thick white fur with black markings on its ears, limbs, shoulders, and around its eyes. The giant panda feeds on bamboo forests at high altitudes in western China. It also eats bulbs, roots, eggs, and some small mammals. The cubs are born in late winter. The giant panda is an endangered species and is protected by the Chinese government.

Question 1 of 2

2. What’s the author’s purpose in the following selection?

Everyone should have a pet. Pets are very loving and affectionate. They help children learn responsibility. Pets give you unconditional love. Having a pet is a wonderful experience that everyone should know.

Question 2 of 2


Next lesson: Fact and Opinion


Last Updated on April 7, 2021.

People Also Read: