Context: Preparing a manuscript for publication in a medical journal is hard work.
Objective: To make it easier to prepare a readable manuscript.
Approach: Start early--A substantial portion of the manuscript can be written before the project is completed. Even though you will revise it later, starting early will help document the methods and guide the analysis. Focus on high-visibility components--Pay attention to what readers are most likely to look at: the title, abstract, tables, and figures. Strive to develop a set of tables and figures that convey not only the major results but also the basic methods. Develop a systematic approach to the body of the paper--A standard framework can make it easier to write the introduction, methods, results, and discussion. An obvious organization with frequent subheadings and consistent labels makes the paper easier to read. Finish strong--Improve the paper by sharing it with others and by learning how to elicit and receive their feedback. Take the time to incorporate useful feedback by revising frequently.