Medical Writing Writing better Writing economically in medicine and science: Tips for tackling wordiness

Volume 26, Issue 1 - Writing better

Writing economically in medicine and science: Tips for tackling wordiness

Abstract

Concise medical and scientific writing is clearer, more direct, and more pleasurable to read than wordy text. It is also more accessible to readers, including those outside the discipline and non-native speakers of  English. An added benefit of limiting word clutter is that it helps reduce the word count to suit publication guidelines. In this article, I describe three ways for medical writers and editors to tackle wordiness: avoiding  repetition, eliminating redundancy, and minimising purposeless words such as unnecessary qualifiers, weak verbs, and roundabout expressions. Using these techniques will help remove barriers to comprehension, encouraging readers to focus on important content.

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References

  1. Purdue Online Writing Lab. Conciseness. 2013 [cited 2016 Dec 9]. Available from: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/572/01/
  2. Messenger WE, de Bruyn J, Brown J, Montagnes R. The Canadian writer’s handbook. 5th ed. Don Mills, Ont: Oxford University Press; 2008.
  3. Iverson C, Christiansen S, Flanagin A, et al. AMA manual of style: a guide for authors and editors. 10th ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2007.
  4. Matthews JR, Matthews RW. Successful scientific writing. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2008.
  5. Zeiger M. Essentials of writing biomedical research papers. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Health Profession Division; 2000.

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Articles

Writing Better
President’s Message
EMWA News
Advancing the Medical Writing profession: The Joint Position Statement on the Role of Professional Medical Writers
AMWA-EMWA-ISMPP Joint Position Statement on the Role of Professional Medical Writers
EMWA’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
Finding the action in your writing: Avoiding nominalisation
Removing the dead wood
Writing economically in medicine and science: Tips for tackling wordiness
How to shorten a text by up to 30% and improve clarity without losing information
Troublesome words
Can you recognise the four main ways that English sentences can be structured?
Three strategies to help you write clearly for a lay audience
Structuring paragraphs
A checklist to improve your writing
Results of the 2016 EMWA member survey
News from the EMA
Getting Your Foot in the Door
Teaching Medical Writing
In the Bookstores
Lingua Franca and Beyond
The Webscout
Good Writing Practice
Medical Communications
Profile: An Interview with Michael Markie - an open science and open data advocate
Out on Our Own

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Raquel Billiones

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Evguenia Alechine

Jonathan Pitt

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Victoria White

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Alicia Waltman

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Anuradha Alahari

Jennifer Bell

Clare Chang

Barbara Grossman

Daniela Nakagawa

Joselita T. Salita

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Amy Whereat

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Somsuvro Basu

EMWA News       

Aurélie Gobet / Paolo Rega

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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

Pharmacovigilance

Jennifer Clemens

Regulatory Matters

Sam Hamilton

Regulatory Public Disclosure

Claire Gudex

Teaching Medical Writing

Kimi Uegaki

The Crofter: Sustainable Communications

Jennifer Bell / Louisa Marcombes

Veterinary Writing

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Elise Langdon-Neuner

Phil Leventhal

Lay out Designer

Chris Monk