In medical communications, when trying to indicate a formal relationship between ourselves and a client or KOL, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of using pompous words or too many of them. However, using obscure or long words to impress (even unwittingly) usually has the opposite effect.
Your reader is likely to prefer Anglo-Saxon words to Latinate ones, as they are more natural sounding and less pompous.
‘We will get together at 6pm’ rather than ‘We will congregate at 6pm’ (‘to congregate’ is the Latin version of the Anglo-Saxon ‘to get together’)
However, it’s important to make sure that the structure and grammar are sound so that it’s clear that an educated choice to use Anglo-Saxon words has been made.
Something else that tends to creep in when trying to be formal is using too many words:
‘owing to the fact that’ – can be replaced with ‘because’ or ‘since’
‘had occasion to be’ – can be replaced with ‘was’
‘in this day and age’ or ‘at the present time’ – can be simplified to ‘now’ or ‘today’
or old-fashioned phrases:
amongst – can be replaced with ‘among’
prior to – replaced with ‘before’ and
whilst – replaced with ‘while’
When reading written work or emails through, it’s also worth looking out for obscure/stuffy words and overcomplicated phrases to see if there is a way to express them more elegantly without sounding too casual.
‘The meeting is scheduled to take place in London on Friday 14 March.’
Could be written as
‘The meeting will be in London on Friday 14 March.’
‘For your convenience I have set up an online poll and would be very grateful if you could indicate your interest in attending by completing your availability. Please click here to complete the poll: http://www.onlinepoll.com/pc82m2ypkd3xgwy2.’
Could be written as
‘To assess availability of participants, please complete this poll: http://www.onlinepoll.com/pc82m2ypkd3xgwy2.’
At Makara Health we employ senior medical writers with at least 10 years of writing experience who you can be sure will get the tone right. We also have a structured QC process on everything we write to ensure consistency and clarity. However, regardless of experience, it never hurts to ask yourself – could this be written more simply? Will I say more with less?