As writers, we need to have the flexibility to write in different formats for a variety of readers. This is sometimes difficult because, as a scientist, I learned to write in a logical order. I first write the background information, then I provide supporting details followed by the specific results and general conclusions. This type of writing format is used in clinical and scientific manuscripts. However, many people do not read the journal article in the order presented by the journal. In order to be understood, information is included in specific areas of the manuscript to account for the different ways scientists and others read journal articles. This format is unique to scientific writing.
Other media use different formats. For example, when we read news articles and when I write blogs, the information is presented in a different order—in an “upside down” order from a scientific article. Most news articles and blog posts start with the bottom line conclusion. This is the “take home message” the reader will learn, even if the reader does not read the rest of the article. The rest of the article provides supporting details for the conclusion.
Because the format for writing newspapers and blog posts is different, it may be difficult for some medical writers to adjust to. Practice is the best way to adjust to a new format. Start by writing articles for new audiences and try to get published in a local journal or newspaper first. This will give you a writing sample as you practice and learn new skills. The summer is a great time to learn new writing formats and expand your writing repertoire. Have a great summer!