How to Write for an International Audience

Table of Contents

My professional writing has primarily served audiences outside of my native country for more than 10 years, frequently addressing multilingual readers. Having my work translated and appearing in several journals, newspapers, and websites across the world has been a rewarding experience. Although almost any kind of writing may be translated for a worldwide readership, I’ve found that writing for a multilingual, global audience requires a more sophisticated approach.
The following advice has helped me write for audiences that are different in terms of language, geography, and culture. I hope you find these insights to be beneficial as well.


Identify and Learn About Your Audience


Understanding your audience and tailoring your writing specifically for them is critical for success in any form of writing. When addressing an international and multilingual readership, thinking about your audience beforehand can help you avoid mistakes and create compelling, effective content. For instance, if you’re writing about financial systems in South Asia for investment professionals in Indonesia and Singapore, you can use industry-specific terminology without needing to explain basic concepts. Conversely, if you’re discussing new malaria treatments with teenagers across India, your text should be universally accessible and engaging.


Identifying your audience doesn’t necessarily require days of in-depth research. Instead, allocate some time to consider who your likely readers are, what they might already know, what they want to learn, and how you can best capture their interest.


Write with Translation in Mind


When writing for an international and multilingual audience, keep your language direct and straightforward. Avoid slang or local idioms that may not translate well. Steer clear of unnecessarily ornate phrases and maintain a practical sentence structure. Generally, the more straightforward your copy, the better it will hold up after translation, accurately conveying your intended message.

Additionally, simpler and more streamlined writing increases the chances that English-language readers who are less than fluent will understand your content without confusion.


Be Mindful of Your Own Assumptions


Several years ago, I was asked to write about an educational summer camp program run by the police force in a foreign city. While the project initially seemed straightforward, I soon realized I had complex questions to consider. Since I didn’t live in the country and wasn’t a regional expert, I lacked the context to understand fully the relationships between the police force, community, and government. Did these groups trust each other, or was there friction or even violence? Were relationships strengthening or deteriorating? Would local community members view the summer program as safe and positive, or with fear and skepticism?

Though these specific questions were outside the scope of my article, they were essential to keep in mind. Being conscious of what I didn’t know helped me avoid making inaccurate assumptions. It allowed me to focus on telling a clear, truthful, and engaging story.


Build on Facts


To navigate the challenges mentioned above and avoid including incorrect assumptions or misleading content, I ensured every sentence was built on concrete, trustworthy facts. I included details of the program and its history from multiple verifiable sources. I incorporated firsthand quotes from organizers and participants, gathered through interviews or other reliable publications. Anytime I introduced new ideas, I made sure they were firmly linked to solid, verifiable information.

My overarching goal was to create an article that members of the community, police force, or government could read and accept as an accurate depiction of the program, irrespective of any political, social, or cultural forces.


Don’t Talk Down to Your Audience


It’s not uncommon to see people speak loudly or simplify their language when interacting with someone who isn’t fluent in their language. Often, this happens subconsciously. If you’re not careful, a similar tone can seep into your writing when addressing an international, multilingual audience. Avoid this pitfall by treating your readers with respect and assuming they are as capable of understanding complex ideas as any native speaker.

By following these guidelines, you can create content that resonates with a diverse audience, ensuring your writing is both effective and engaging, regardless of linguistic or cultural barriers. If you’re looking to publish your own work or need further guidance, check out BookFuel, your trusted partner in bringing your literary projects to life.


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