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.

Download the full article


  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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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