Critical Tools for Medical Editing

doctor typing at computerTo be a great medical editor, you need great copyediting skills: a sharp eye, attention to detail, and a drive to get things right. You also need to master the special conventions that govern medical publishing. Here are the resources you need to do that.
You can download the PDF version here.

Style guides

  • AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors, 10th edition
    Primary style guide for editing all manner of medical publications
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition
    Default guide for editing material in the social and behavioral sciences
  • Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 8th edition
    Reference for editors in science and related fields
  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition
    Comprehensive style guide that should address any questions not covered in the above guides.

Medical dictionaries

  • Stedman’s Medical Dictionary
    Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary
    Two gold-standard dictionaries for the healthcare field, each listing 100,000+ medical terms and their definitions

Medical spellcheckers

  • Stedman’s Plus Medical/Pharmaceutical Spellchecker
    Plug-in for MS Word and other word processors that enhances the spellchecker with some 500,000 medical, pharmaceutical, and biological terms
  • Inductel Medical Spellchecker
    Plug-in spellcheckers for medical content; scientific and technical content; and combo medical, legal, scientific, and technical content
  • Spellex Universal Medical Spellchecker
    Spellchecks medical, surgical, chemistry, and laboratory terms across platforms (MS Word, email, websites, social posts, etc.)

Resources for getting references right

  • PubMed Citation Matcher
    References, abstracts, and DOIs for articles on life sciences and biomedical topics
  • Index Medicus
    Standard abbreviations for medical journals, such as “N Engl J Med” for the New England Journal of Medicine
  • Library of Congress Online Catalog
    Catalog records for the library’s 162 million books, periodicals, manuscripts, and other resources
  • Google Scholar
    Niche search engine that allows you to search a broad array of scholarly literature
    U.S. National Library of Medicine database of research studies being conducted around the world

General medical references

Information on ethics

  • International Committee of Medical Journal Editors
    Recommendations for best practices and ethical standards in the publication of medical research
  • Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)
    Advice to editors and publishers on all aspects of publication ethics, particularly how to handle research and publication misconduct

Professional associations and certifications

  • American Medical Writers Association
    Members can become Medical Writer Certified (MWC)
  • Association of Health Care Journalists
  • Board of Editors in the Life Sciences
    Offers Editor in the Life Sciences (ELS) certification
  • Council of Science Editors
  • International Society for Medical Publication Professionals
    Members can become Certified Medical Publication Professionals (CMPP)
  • National Association of Science Writers

Additional resources

Reference managers

Software tools for managing and publishing citations, bibliographies, and references
EndNote (
Zotero (
Mendeley (
This post is part of a series featuring Dragonfly field guides, tips, and tricks. Feel free to share! 
You can download the PDF version here.


Related Posts

Learn more about making Dragonfly part of your team

Enjoying our content?

Sign up for our monthly newsletter, with tips on writing, editing, and design.