John Dixon, independent medical writer and trainer in scientific writing skills, provides a useful tip for medical writers who work in MedComms.

John’s Linkedin page is at https://www.linkedin.com/in/johndixonlmm/

John’s web page is at https://librasciencecomms.co.uk

Note these “bites” are recorded online using the zoom.us platform and hence quality may be affected by variability in internet connectivity and quality of webcams. The tips, however, are always first class!

Recorded 30 April 2019. Produced by NetworkPharma.tv

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Transcript

Hi, I’m John Dixon, a trainer in scientific writing, and here’s a bite that I hope may help you with your writing.

* Using the dash to introduce new information.
* Here, I use the term dash to mean the en or em dash, but not the hyphen or minus sign [NEXT SLIDE]

As a ‘parenthetical dash’, the dash can be used:

* singly or in pairs
* to introduce new information that you want to stand out or to interrupt sentence flow
[NEXT]

Such new information may:

* be notable, contrasting or surprising
* summarise or provide an example
* or provide another name for something preceding … let’s consider some examples using the en dash …[NEXT SLIDE]

An example of introducing contrasting information:

* Few science faculties – ours being an exception – make scientific writing courses compulsory.

An example of providing an example:

* Some punctuation marks – dashes, semicolons and the serial comma – are often used incorrectly or inconsistently.

An example of introducing an alternative name:

* Our genetic makeup – our DNA – determines our facial characteristics.

Here, the en dash should have spaces around it to separate it from adjacent text [NEXT] … [NEXT SLIDE]

However, there are situations when the dash should not be used to introduce new information:

We should use balancing commas for additional information when we don’t want sentence flow to be interrupted:

So … We, biologists, are interested in animals and plants. And here it’s better to use balancing commas

And for incidental or even unnecessary information, use parentheses:

So … The structure of DNA was first described over 60 years ago (in 1953). [NEXT SLIDE]

The em dash can be used as a parenthetical dash in the same way as the en dash

But it’s more commonly used in US English—in British English, the en dash is often preferred

Do note that for parenthetical use, the em dash is placed adjacent to surrounding text – i.e. it’s unspaced [NEXT SLIDE]

Here are some resources that I’ve found useful…

Well, I hope that’s helpful. For more bites, visit NetworkPharma.tv

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

We are building a library of free webcasts and other video content for the global MedComms Community and others at http://www.networkpharma.tv and we’d welcome your suggestions for new content.

[For the avoidance of doubt: this video is intended to be freely accessible to all. Please feel free to share and use however you like. Cheers Peter Llewellyn, Director NetworkPharma Ltd and Founder of the MedComms Networking Community activity at http://www.medcommsnetworking.com]