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May 1971

Style in Medical Writing

Author Affiliations

Rochester, Minn

Arch Intern Med. 1971;127(5):807-808. doi:10.1001/archinte.1971.00310170015003

It has not escaped notice that all important scientific observations have been recorded with a singular fitness of words. The best scientists have been the best writers upon science. Huxley, Tyndale, and Osler are good writers of English, because the style of each is inseparable from the man. His way of writing is part of himself, since a pen is not a machine which proceeds automatically, once it is set in motion. It must be governed by a hand which, in turn, is directed by a mind.

There are three kinds of writers: those who never think at all; those who think only as they write; and those who have thought before they take the pen in hand. Careful observers belong in the last category, and that is the reason why they write so well. Poor writers employ phrases. Good writers employ words; and they compel each word to give

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