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ARTICLE |

The Opening Sentence

Lester S. King, MD
JAMA. 1967;202(6):535-536. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130190141022.
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ABSTRACT

In any writing the opening sentence has a heavy responsibility. It must seize the reader's attention and make him want to continue, indicate the general subject matter, and impart its information in a pleasing and attractive form. Students in journalism courses are taught a formula for writing the opening sentence—the who-where-when-what-how approach. This will tell who did what, where and when he did it, and will give whatever attendant circumstances can fit into a single sentence. But medical writing is different from a newspaper report.

The first sentence has a dual function: it must carry some essential information, particularly the problem under consideration, and at the same time gently translate the reader into the body of the article. There is no need to crowd all the specific information that the news reporter tries to express, nor yet to provide a setting or background such as a short story writer might

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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