Medical Writing Medical Writing in Paediatrics English Grammar and Style

Volume 21, Issue 2 - Medical Writing in Paediatrics

English Grammar and Style


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.


  1. Reeves A. Overwriting (1). Write Stuff 2011;20(3):172.
  2. de Looze S. Slash the slash – or, the art of not being oblique. Write Stuff 2001;10(4):89–93.
  3. Reeves A. 4-letter words and others (5). Write Stuff 2007;16(4):170–1.
  4. Strunk W, White EB. The elements of style. 4th ed. New York, Pearson Education Company; 2000
  5. Reeves A. Braving the elements. Write Stuff 2009;18(2):89–92.
  6. English Style Guide. European commission directorate-general for translation. 7th ed. 2011.
  7. The Oxford Guide to Style. In: Ritter RM (ed.). Oxford University Press; 2002.
  8. AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors. In: Iverson C (chair) (ed.). New York, Oxford: University Press; 2007.



Medical writing in paediatrics: Children and the future
Message from the President
Challenges of paediatric drug development and impact of paediatric legislation
Writing applications for Paediatric Investigation Plans and waivers
Preparing the Paediatric Investigation Plan application
ADHD: A true neurodevelopmental disorder?
Medicines information for patients: Insights into research and practice for medical writers
The MHRA perspective on the new pharmacovigilance legislation
Are stem cells the future of healthcare?
O, safety, quo vadis?
Crowdpower in the era of ‘health 2.0’
Networking effectively: Essential for being successful in business
The moving image and your business
Forgive me for repeating myself: Self-plagiarism in the medical literature
In the Bookstores
Journal Watch
The Webscout
Manuscript Writing
Regulatory Writing
English Grammar and Style
Out On Our Own

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