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Section 1.4.2

Audience Use of Document

Readers of technical and scientific writing, whatever their level of expertise, read a document for three general purposes:

to acquire information

to help make decisions

to learn how to do something

To Acquire Information

Readers at all levels of expertise read technical documents toacquire information. Experts read current documents in their ownfields to maintain their level of expertise and read documents in related fields to increase the breadthof their knowledge. Furthermore, experts or technicians in one field are often novices in another field and read documents to acquire a basicunderstanding. Sometimes technicians read documents to acquire a basic understanding of generalconcepts and processes that will help them perform their tasks and diagnose and solve problems theymay encounter. Managers read to acquire both the general andthe specific information necessary for them to supervise their staffs effectively and to function wellin their organizations. Laypersons read scientific and technicaldocuments to acquire general knowledge about a subject or as novices attempting to become experts.

To Help Make Decisions

Readers at all levels of expertise read documents to makedecisions. An expert may read a technical study to decide whetheror not to conduct a specific experiment or to use a new design element. A manager may need to make or approve a decision. Technicians use documents to decide on the selection of specifichardware and software and to determine the best procedure for performing a task. Laypersons may read documents to help select a particular productor investment.

To Learn How to Do Something

All readers, whatever their level of expertise, sometimes read instructions to help them perform various tasks. A manager may read a document to learn how to use new budgetingsoftware. An expert may read a document to learn how to use anew device. Instructions are an essential part of a technician's role in performing tasks and makingthings work. Finally, as laypersons, all of us use instructions toperform everyday tasks, from using an Automated Teller Machine to filling out our income taxforms.

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