Over the years, Marketing and Communications has developed a preferred style for the punctuation and use of many titles and terms used throughout Seattle Children’s. In conjunction with our preferred style, we use the Associated Press style, which is considered the authoritative word for journalists on the rules of grammar, punctuation and usage. For medical references, we use Stedman’s Medical Dictionary for spelling of all diseases, disorders, syndromes, etc.
The Associated Press Stylebook can be purchased at major bookstores or ordered through the Associated Press, AP News features, 50 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020; it is also available as an online resource. Visit the Associated Press Stylebook.
Below is an alphabetical listing of style guidelines as they are applied when writing about Children’s.
Seattle Children’s style is to use the number sign and a numeral to designate a position in a scale of achievement or status in both headlines and running text (this differs from AP Style). For ordinal numbers, our style is to write out first through ninth in running text, and use figures in headlines.
Examples for running text:
Seattle Children’s is the #5 pediatric hospital in the nation.
Seattle Children’s is the fifth best pediatric hospital in the nation.
Examples for headlines:
We Are #5!
We Are 5th Best!
Important context: Medical research is innovation in action. Its potential to improve the health and well-being of children is exciting. Our work to improve pediatric healthcare is a key differentiator for Seattle Children’s. The process of research has a long arc with many steps along the way. The key is to communicate the excitement and potential of our research while being clear and accurate about where we are in the process and why this moment in time matters. Things to keep in mind when communicating to all audiences about research:
Words – like cure, remission, therapeutics, therapy, treatment – have specific meaning and must be used correctly.
Not all research will ultimately improve care. That’s true and OK. We cannot write about research as though the outcome is a foregone conclusion.
Patients don’t fail experimental therapies or fail to respond to standard treatment; rather their disease fails to respond or is resistant to conventional therapy.
While only a fraction of research projects result in new standards of care, all research contributes knowledge that helps direct future projects.
Know what question a research project is trying to answer. A phase 1 clinical trial is usually studying safety and dosing, not whether a new treatment is better than the current standard of care.
Medical treatment does not include medical research, and it is necessary to maintain the distinction between them.
Don’t cherry pick facts to make progress sound more impressive – especially when subsequent findings are known. It’s misleading, and it sets us up for contradicting ourselves as we write about the same research throughout its lifecycle.
Stick to the facts, avoid superlatives, don’t draw conclusions about results.
Language and definitions Note: See also seattlechildrens.org for an online glossary with plain language definitions of commonly used medical terms. Clinical trials – Clinical trials are research studies that test whether a new treatment, medication, medical device or prevention method is safe, effective for people, and better than the current treatment practices (a.k.a. the current standard of care). Clinical trials can study a single treatment alone or in combination with other standard treatments in any phase, especially in phase 3. Clinical trials have several phases: Phase 1 – To learn if a new drug, treatment, or treatment combination is safe for people, and get information about dosage and side effects. Phase 2 – To learn more about safety and also how well it works. Phase 3 – To learn if something that worked well in a phase 2 trial is effective when studied across a larger group of people that includes a cross section of the population. Phase 3 trials also compare the results of the experimental drug, treatment or treatment combination with the current standard treatment. Important notes: Pre-clinical and clinical trials are how new ideas are tested. What is being studied is not a proven treatment, and may not prove to be better than current standard treatments. Participants choose to be part of the study. They may find the study on their own or they may be invited to join a study. It is becoming more common to see phase 2/3 trials – your subject matter expert will be able to clarify what phase the clinical trial is in. Use a lower case p (in phase) with a numeral to designate the specific phase of a clinical trial.
Example: In a phase 1 clinical trial, researchers test the safety of a new treatment.
Cure – When there are no traces of a disease in one’s body and it is not expected to return. After cancer treatment, people who have remained in complete remission for five (5) years or more, are considered to be cured (most cancers that recur do so within five years). Note: Do not promise cures. When using the word cure in content about clinical or basic science research, be clear that the research is not a cure, but that getting to a cure is our goal.
Examples: Therapy (also treatment) – An intervention that attempts to remediate a health issue. In the medical context, both therapy and treatment indicate that the intervention received approval from the Food and Drug Administration after clinical study. Note: Do not refer to a research study or study drug as a therapy or a treatment, unless the context clearly communicates that study is still underway. You can use modifiers like investigational, experimental, study, or research. You can use the word product instead of therapy or treatment (though this can sound cold and detached). Examples:
We can cure cancer with your help.
Our goal is to eventually cure
Research helps bring us closer to a cure.
The National Cancer Institute has more information on the difference between cure and remission. Remission – Decrease or disappearance of signs and symptoms of a disease.
Complete remission (also called complete response) is when all signs and symptoms of the disease have disappeared (the disease may still be in the body, but it is undetectable).
Partial remission is when some, but not all signs and symptoms of a disease have disappeared.
This is an investigational treatment for lupus.
Our phase 2 trial involves an experimental therapy called cancer immunotherapy.
The therapy in the clinical trial is being studied for efficacy.
A phase 1 clinical trial’s product is given to patients who have few or no other options.
Benign – A tumor that is not cancerous. It may grow, but usually doesn’t spread to other parts of the body. Usually not harmful
Cancerous – Cells that won’t stop growing and can invade surrounding tissue. It can also spread to other parts of one’s body. Synonymous with malignant.
Malignant – Cells that won’t stop growing and can invade surrounding tissue, or spread to other parts of the body. Synonymous with cancerous. Malignant tumors have the potential to spread distantly, which distinguishes them from benign tumors.
Therapy (also treatment) – An intervention that attempts to remediate a health issue. In the medical context, both therapy and treatment indicate that the intervention received approval from the Food and Drug Administration after clinical study.
Note: Do not refer to a research study or study drug as a therapy or a treatment, unless the context clearly communicates that study is still underway. You can use modifiers like investigational, experimental, study, or research. You can use the word product instead of therapy or treatment (though this can sound cold and detached).