Writing skills

Last updated: Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Whatever your role, you will often be required to communicate information or advice in writing. When you are starting out this can be quite difficult - you may find it helpful to look at written material prepared by a more experienced person and learn by their example.

Here are some example situations when you will need to concentrate on writing well:

  • Sending e-mails to a colleague
  • Authoring an audit or research project
  • Submitting your CV, or applying for a job
  • Leaving advice or instructions in a patient’s notes
  • Preparing reports and guidelines
  • Contributing material to an NHS website

There are two main reasons for writing well: 

1. Clarity
If you write poorly, then what you say may be difficult to understand or even misinterpreted. This could be because you have been ambiguous, used confused language, omitted details, or written something different to what you intended.

2. Professionalism
Words are your instructions to others. If your writing is poor, then people reading it may not trust and/or ignore vital advice or information that you’re trying to give them. It’s all about context. What you say when you message your friends is up to you, but how you communicate at work will be seen as a mark of your professionalism. You’ve got to learn to do it well.

Writing an answer in response to a clinical problem and sending it via e.g. e-mail helps to avoid some of the misinterpretations or mis-rememberings that can happen when an answer is only communicated verbally. Written responses also enable larger amounts of information to be provided.

If you are just starting out, it can sometimes be difficult to find the right words to get your message across clearly. The University of Manchester have developed a useful Academic Phrasebank to help you.