Medical Writing Medical Writing in Oncology Good Writing Practice

Volume 21, Issue 1 - Medical Writing in Oncology

Good Writing Practice


The Good Writing Practice initiative was launched in the December 2010 issue of TWS1 by Alistair Reeves and Wendy Kingdom. The aim is to go beyond the classic style guide and provide advice on practical aspects of writing that make texts easier to read – and write, of course. An initial list of topics to be covered was put together by a small group of European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) members, some of whom have already contributed.1 This project is, however, open to anyone who wishes to contribute advice on writing in our field that is not found in published style guides and that they feel would be useful to their colleagues. The advice may also contradict classic style guides – which is no surprise, since they often contradict one another.

The aim is to keep contributions short so that a variety of topics can be covered in each issue. ‘Short’ means about 400–500 words, sometimes up to a page. Topics that need more space can be spread across successive issues. So far, we have covered abbreviations, the benefits of using a language dictionary, pleasing the reader, overwriting, using checklists when writing, and writing for specific audiences.

If you have ideas or wish to agree or disagree with any of the advice or add new aspects, do not hold back: send a contribution to Wendy Kingdom or Alistair Reeves, however long or short. Maybe you have a question that you have not found an answer to elsewhere. We have plenty of experts in EMWA who should be able to answer most questions about writing.

Finally, we hope to bring everything together in an EMWA publication. Help us to make this a success!

Download the full article


  1. Reeves A, Kingdom W. Good writing practice. TWS 2010;19(4):281.
  2. Geercken S. Challenges of (medical) writing for the multilingual audience. TWS 2006;15(2):45–7.
  3. Sham Samuel. The House of God. New York, N.Y.: Delta Trade Paperbacks, 2003.
  4. Reeves A. Some comments on the ‘Compilation of QRD decisions on stylistic matters in product information’ from the EMA. TWS 2010;19(3):217–8.
  5. Reeves A. Braving the elements. TWS 2009;18(2):89–92.
  6. Anon. Good writing practice: abbreviations (1). TWS 2011;20(1):48.
  7. Anon. Good writing practice: abbreviations (2). TWS 2011;20(2):118.
  8. ECDC. EU case definition: HUS caused by epidemic strain Shiga toxin 2 producing Escherichia coli. Available from:
  9. Warrell DA, Cox TM, Firth JD, eds. Oxford Textbook of Medicine. Vol. 1. 4th ed. Oxford University Press, UK. 2005.
  10. Robert Koch Institute. Information update on EHEC outbreak. Available from:
  11. Lapeyraque AL, Malina M, Fremeaux-Bacchi V, Boppel T, Kirschfink M, Oualha M, et al. Complement Blockade in Severe Shiga-Toxin-Associated HUS. N Engl J Med. 2011 May 25. Advanced publication Available from:
  12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Investigation Update: Outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O104 (STEC O104:H4) infections associated with travel to Germany. 15 June 2011 Available from:
  13. Allen E. Don't teach the ‘Queen's English’ to foreign language students, linguist urges. Mail Online, 2 November 2011. Available from:
  14. Saraceni M. Reflections on the rhetorics on the (re-)location of English. Changing Engl 2011;18(3):277–85.
  15. Widdowson HG. The ownership of English. TESOL Quart 1994;28(2):377–89.
  16. Braine G. Nonnative Speaker English Teachers. London: Routledge; 2010. p. 9–10.
  17. Kirkpatrick A. No experience necessary? Guardian Weekly, 20 January 2006. Available from:



About the Medical Writing Journal
Oncology and medical writers
Message from the President
The war on cancer – What is the enemy, and are we winning?
Medical writing for cancer trials and submissions
Developing a treatment for ovarian cancer
The evolving landscape of medical education in oncology
Some considerations on the safety evaluation section of clinical study reports for studies with anticancer drugs
Identifying appropriate journals in which to publish original research on vaccines against human infectious diseases
New myths about English
From researcher in Europe to medical writer in India
Imaging techniques in oncology
Is cancer preventable? A literature review
A rising tide: Hospitals and social media
In the Bookstores
Journal Watch
The Webscout
Manuscript Writing
Regulatory Writing
Good Writing Practice
Out On Our Own
Translation Section


The Write Stuff Archive Contact Instructions for Authors Article Template (Word) Journal Policies

Editoral Board


Raquel Billiones


Evguenia Alechine

Jonathan Pitt

Managing Editor

Victoria White

Associate Editors

Anuradha Alahari

Jennifer Bell

Nicole Bezuidenhout

Claire Chang

Barbara Grossman

Sarah Milner

John Plant

Sampoorna Rappaz

Amy Whereat

Section Editors

Daniela Kamir


Jennifer Bell


Nicole Bezuidenhout 

Digital Communication

Somsuvro Basu

EMWA News 

Ana Sofia Correia 

Gained in Translation

Ivana Turek

Getting Your Foot in the Door

Wendy Kingdom / Amy Whereat

Good Writing Practice

Alison McIntosh 

In the Bookstores

Maria Kołtowska-Häggström

Lingua Franca and Beyond

Maddy Dyer


Lisa Chamberlain-James

Medical Communications/Writing for Patients

Payal Bhatia

Medical Devices

Evguenia Alechine

My First Medical Writing

Anuradha Alahari

News from the EMA

Adriana Rocha


Tiziana von Bruchhausen


Clare ChangZuo Yen Lee 

Regulatory Matters

Sam Hamilton

Regulatory Public Disclosure

Claire Gudex

Teaching Medical Writing

Louisa Ludwig-Begall / Sarah Kabani

The Crofter: Sustainable Communications

Louisa Marcombes

Veterinary Writing

Editors Emeritus

Elise Langdon-Neuner

Phil Leventhal

Layout Designer

Chris Monk