Monday, September 17, 2007

Medical Writing: The Technic and the Art, by Morris Fishbein, M.D.

This little book had been in my office for months and I didn't know about it. A former editor in my department left it in one of my bookshelves and just now I've discovered it. This is from the second edition, printed in 1950.

It may be old, but the advice certainly is current. I love the section on verbosity:

"Verbosity is a blemish in the writing of most people--one that makes reading tedious, mars diction and wastes space. This fault can be overcome easily, but in most instances not efficiently until after the paper has been written. Unless you have tried it, you will be astonished at the number of words, phrases, clauses, sentences and, occasionally, paragraphs that can be deleted without affecting the meaning. Deletions of unnecessary words always improve grammatical construction and style of expression and facilitate reading with understanding."

Fishbein provides many "horrible examples," as he calls them, of verbosity in medical writing. But I'll better end this post now before it turns into logorrhoea (another word for verbosity).

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