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April 12, 1995

Too Many Words? Mozart 1, Emperor 0

Author Affiliations

University of Bristol Bristol, England

JAMA. 1995;273(14):1087-1088. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520380023014

To the Editor.  —There are books on medical writing in which the techniques of clear writing are illustrated by rewriting examples of published medical prose. My own book is one.1 Zieger's book2 is the most comprehensive that I know of. If articles in the Annals of Internal Medicine are little easier to read after peer review and editing,3I suggest it is because editors are too busy to rewrite whole manuscripts. I am led even more to this conclusion because manuscripts were 2.6% longer after editing, and every manuscript I have ever edited has ended up shorter.Dr Roberts and colleagues3 wrote: "Both the Gunning and Flesch scores are based on sentence and word length. One might then conclude that these indexes are not valid for medical writing [because of Latin words and neologisms].... But it is just such characteristics that editors criticize as detrimental to

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