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January 1986

Medical Writing and English

Author Affiliations

Sterling Heights, Mich

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1986;112(1):112. doi:10.1001/archotol.1986.03780010114025

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To the Editor.—Medical writing and plain, understandable English have unfortunately grown farther and farther apart over the years. Although problems of style are largely subjective and would be very difficult for a journal editor to correct, problems of terminology are more concrete. Two consecutive articles in the October 1985 issue of the Archives illustrate very clearly the problems that arise when authors feel free to "do their own thing." Within five pages (pages 655-659) we find a single operation called by four different names—uvulopharyngoplasty, uvulopharyngopalatoplasty, palatoplasty, and palatopharyngoplasty—and three different abbreviations—UPP, UPPP, and PPP. The informed reader will find the variations recognizable but distracting; the librarian may well find them confusing. This is especially true now that libraries rely so extensively on the literal-minded assistance of computers.

There are guidelines for terminology, and these should be enforced. Individual authors should not have the freedom to use idiosyncratic names and

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