The fundamental principle in the practice of medicine, ‘first, do no harm’, could be transposed to the world of medical writing to ‘first, do not annoy’. The Good Writing Practice (GWP) group at EMWA has been focussing on our readership and on writing for the reader. We want the reader to want to read what we've written and then appreciate it, so what we must avoid at all costs is causing annoyance. The GWP group came up with a list of writing habits that annoy them. Some of those habits that cause us to bristle come in the category of pet hates and can sometimes be put down to personal taste, whereas others are clearly seen as writing errors.
We've discussed the first impressions a document makes on the reader, and how the document layout, titles and headers contribute to a good first impression. We've highlighted how clearly identifiable mistakes and typos make the reader lose faith in the content of the document, and we've looked at the habit of overwriting, i.e. repeating information unnecessarily or providing excess information.1
In this issue, we look at some other sources of annoyance cited by the group.
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