Medical Writing Post-Approval Regulatory Writing English Grammar and Style

Volume 23, Issue 4 - Post-Approval Regulatory Writing

English Grammar and Style


Pronouns are useful referents (i.e. the thing doing the referring) to avoid repetition of words (usually nouns). Although personal pronouns (he, she, and I, in particular) are infrequent in medical writing, the neutral ‘it’ and the demonstrative pronouns (singular, ‘this and that’; plural, ‘these and those’) are common. However, the personal pronoun ‘it’ and the demonstrative pronouns invariably cause us to backtrack: to refer back to previous textual information (an antecedent) to find out what the pronoun is replacing. Backtracking impedes immediate comprehension of the text, especially when the antecedent is an entire sentence.

There are techniques for eliminating the personal pronoun ‘it’ and the demonstrative pronouns. These techniques may be semantic, syntactic, or both. Eliminating the neutral and demonstrative pronouns will help the reader by improving clarity, thereby eliminating a distraction to immediate comprehension.

There are fourmain techniques for eliminating personal and demonstrative pronouns: semantic revision, single syntactic unit revision, double syntactic unit revision, and syntactic position revision. In the first of three articles on backtracking pronouns, we examine semantic revision, i.e. replacement of pronouns by words with explicit reference to an antecedent. The examples are from graduate student writing in the course ‘Systematic research writing’.



Post-approval regulatory writing
President's Message
Responding to concerns over the PSMF: Inspectors offer key insights
Post-approval regulatory writing – How different is it from writing pre-approval documents?
Strategic medical writing in the post-authorisation phase
Non-interventional Post-Authorisation Safety Studies (NI-PASS): A different type of report
Writing publications for advisory boards
The EMWA Budapest Working Group: A 2-year collaboration to make recommendations for aligning the ICH E3 guideline with current practice and developing clinical study protocol guidance
Profile: An interview with Esther Moreno Barriuso: On some fundamental concerns of medical interpreting
English Grammar and Style
News from the EMA
The Webscout
In the Bookstores
Out On Our Own
The Light Stuff

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Editoral Board


Raquel Billiones


Evguenia Alechine

Jonathan Pitt

Managing Editor

Victoria White

Deputy Managing Editor

Alicia Waltman

Associate Editors

Anuradha Alahari

Jennifer Bell

Clare Chang

Barbara Grossman

Daniela Nakagawa

Joselita T. Salita

Petal Smart

Amy Whereat

Section Editors

Nicole Bezuidenhout 

Digital Communication

Somsuvro Basu

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Aurélie Gobet / Paolo Rega

Gained in Translation

Ivana Turek

Getting Your Foot in the Door

Wendy Kingdom / Amy Whereat

Good Writing Practice

Alison McIntosh / Stephen Gilliver

In the Bookstores

Maria Kołtowska-Häggström

Lingua Franca and Beyond

Phil Leventhal

Manuscript Writing

Lisa Chamberlain-James

Medical Communications/Writing for Patients

Namrata Upadhyay

Medical Devices

Evguenia Alechine

My First Medical Writing

Anuradha Alahari

News from the EMA

Laura Kehoe

Out on Our Own

Tiziana von Bruchhausen


Jennifer Morris

Regulatory Matters

Sam Hamilton

Regulatory Public Disclosure

Claire Gudex

Teaching Medical Writing

Kimi Uegaki

The Crofter: Sustainable Communications

Jennifer Bell / Louisa Marcombes

Veterinary Writing

Editors Emeritus

Elise Langdon-Neuner

Phil Leventhal

Lay out Designer

Chris Monk