Medical Writing Writing Matters Manuscript Writing

Volume 21, Issue 3 - Writing Matters

Manuscript Writing


Abstracts are perhaps the most important part of a manuscript because they are often the only part that is read and used as an information source. They are also used by readers (consciously or not) to decide whether to read the full article, and editors often use the abstract to determine whether they will send out a manuscript for peer review. The abstract therefore serves not only as an essential information source but also as an advertisement for your manuscript and for you and the other authors.

This is the first of two articles that shows you how to shorten your abstract. This first article describes how to shorten abstracts by eliminating unnecessary content and using plain language. The second article will describe how to use linguistic devices to reduce the word count. The accent of these two articles is on preparing informational and descriptive abstracts for publications, but these considerations also apply to conference abstracts.

Download the full article


  1. Lang TA. How to write, publish, and present in the health sciences: a guide for clinicians and laboratory researchers. Philadelphia: American College of Physicians; 2008.
  2. Graf J. Handbook of biomedical research: the journal article abstract [document on the internet]. 2008 [cited 2012 May 10] Available from:
  3. Blank GK. Wordiness, wordiness, wordiness list [document on the internet]. 2012 [cited 2012 May 10]. Available from:
  4. Ohri M, Dawes K. Successful abstract writing: an essential skill for medical writers. Write Stuff 2009;18(1):27–8.



Writing Matters
Message from the President
EMWA news
Getting what you want from your scientific writing: tips for writing clearly
What's your problem? A practical approach to scientific document design
The joys of outlining in medical writing
Pleasing the reader by pleasing the eye—Part 1 The role of format and design in readability
Writing visually for medical writers
Quality control: getting the best out of your review
Pharmaceutical medical writing competencies: Comparing self-perception with employers' expectations
In the Bookstores
Journal Watch
The Webscout
Manuscript Writing
Regulatory writing
English Grammar and Style
Out On Our Own
Gained in Translation


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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