The first step in any writing endeavor, including the documents for CO301B, should be completing a rhetorical analysis. This research, which involves defining who comprises the documentís target audience as well as the overall purpose of the writing, lays the groundwork for all subsequent research and drafting.
Determining the Target Audience: The most important aspect of rhetorical analysis is clearly defining and understanding the identity of the target audience. Different readers require specific writing and formatting styles, including the use of color and pictures, and it is your duty to be sensitive to these needs. One key consideration is the age of the target audience. You would need to use very different vocabulary when addressing elementary school children versus college students. You must choose words that allow concepts to be explained clearly and concisely; however, be cautious of condescending to the audience, and always respect their intelligence. Along these same lines, you must consider the audienceís technical expertise in the documentís subject area. Especially in scientific writing, there are so many explanations of complicated ideas that you must be fully aware of the extent of the audienceís prior knowledge. This information is absolutely vital, as it alerts you to the degree of depth the audience expects. Complex subjects can be explained even to readers with no background in the subject through the use of analogies, examples, and diagrams. To be successful, you must be very familiar with the audienceís identity.
Determining the Documentís Purpose: Rhetorical analysis also includes classifying the document as an informative piece, an argumentative piece, et cetera. Many scientific documents about global warming, for example, have political undertones that require an argumentative style of writing. Many other documents are simply intended to inform, and you must be cognizant of your documentís purpose. In this class, the site partners will likely inform you what goals they have for the documents, as well as whom they expect the target audience to be. Only after completing this introductory research can you purposefully set out to complete further research about the documentís topic and begin drafting.