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Article
November 17, 1894

A PLEA FOR BREVITY IN MEDICAL WRITING.

JAMA. 1894;XXIII(20):765. doi:10.1001/jama.1894.02421250027003

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Abstract

"Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, And tediousness, the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief."—Polonius in "Hamlet."

Gracefulness and elegance is not given to all alike, nor can every one hope to express himself with perfect propriety and perspicuity; but in the use of the mother tongue all may be able to combine clearness of expression with brevity. This, indeed, is that simple style so much praised and so seldom seen.

A fact stated with simplicity gains in force, while if buried in tropes and figures or in mere words, it has no vigor. Too great attention to ornament destroys the dignity of an article, and is nearly fatal to its authority. One need not reject ornament, but in writing upon scientific subjects ornament must be held subordinate to truth and simplicity. These last are indeed cardinal virtues in the manuscript intended for the medical

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