mainly medical writing
A - Z of Medical Writing
English anhd Chinese editions
The purpose behind this book was to produce a reference that doctors and other health professionals could keep near their desks and refer to whenever they came across a writing problem. These problems could range from whether to engage an agent to the proper use of the semi-colon.
The book also enabled me to parade (and claim ownership for!) some terms that I have coined over the years, such as the pub test, posh overcoat, polyfontophilia and post-spelling-bee-traumatic-disorder.
Highly commended in the 2002 Medical Journalists Association Awards. The judges said it was ‘destined to become a classic’
What they have said:
- 'TIm Albert has written a funny, ironic, hard-minded dictionary for medical writers and editors. His dictionary is filled with practical advice about effective writing and political wisdom about how to survive as an editor.' - Stan Goldman, American Medical Writers Association Journal
- Tim Albert's A-Z of medical writing is one of those books that few people could write but many will consult..' - European Science Editing
- 'I can recommend this book to beginners. I would especially recommend it to heads of depeartments and senior authors, who should insist their novice researcher first read this book before embarking on their first manuscript. They will save much time and effort before writing a word. The investment will be rewarded with clearer prose, completed projects and less time spent sub-editing.' - TH Walsh, Irish Journal of Medical Science
- 'It is a book to dip into at random (I defy anyone not to find something useful when they do this, or not to be tempted to follow a trail of other entries) or to turn to for advice on specific topics.' - William Marshall, Bulletin of the Royal College of Pathologist
These are arranged alphabetically, from Abbreviations and Absolutes to Yellow Marker Test and Zzzz ('Sleep. A precious commodity. Once you have written what you set out to write, you can hope to have a little more of it. Enjoy: tomorrow could be another writing day'.)
'Effective writing Defining this is one of the most important issues in this book. Unfortunately, many people are vague about what they consider to be good writing, and define it in subjective terms: "I know it when I see it., It sort of flows. And it's elegant" (see style).
'I favour a more practical definition: effective writing achieves the purpose we set it. Effective writing does not set out to be obscure and misunderstood (see political writing), nor is it written to satisfy some urge within the writer (see great writers). It is not an art form but a tool, and the way to measure it is to set out in advance what you want to do. This then becomes the standard you can measure it against.
'For instance, you can consider an article a 'good' one when it is accepted for publication in your target journal (waiting for praise is likely to disappoint). Consider a report successful when your preferred recommendations get accepted. Be satisfied with a letter if the recipient comes back for more information, or (under different circumstances) does not come back for more information. A leaflet appealing for blood donors can be considered a success when the target number of donors appears.
'The principle is that writing is your servant, not your master. If you define in advance what you want your writing to do, you can also define in advance how to measure it. Failure to do this can lead to confusion and depression as you start to believe those who tell you, for all kinds of reasons and with no real evidence, that your writing is poor (see PIANO).
'...PIANO My very own acronym, and it provides a vital principle for effective writing: Put It Across Not Out. Actually it's quite hard to do.'
2000 BMJ Books 145 pages
Other books by Tim Albert:
Write effectively: a quick course for busy health workers
Winning the publications game: how to write a scientific paper without neglecting your patients
Medical journalism: the writer's guide
"PIANO: My very own acronym, and it provides a vital principle for effective writing: Put It Across Not Out. Actually it's quite hard to do"