DDW News

Staying Under the Bar: The Character Count Limbo

Alex Zhornitskiy, MD, is currently a gastroenterology fellow at the University of California, Davis, and is part of the AGA Young Delegates program. His interests include addressing disparities in underrepresented populations through health care advocacy, education and research. He can be reached on Twitter @AZhornitskiy.
Alex Zhornitskiy, MD

So you’re ready to write an abstract to Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) 2022? You’ve read the abstract guidelines thoroughly and, with character count in mind, you’ve written what you think is a nice concise draft, only to check to see you are well over the character limit. Many of us have been there or will be there soon. Before panic ensues, take a step back and consider these five tips on how to avoid this situation.

As a reminder, there is a limit of 2,900 characters, including spaces, for the abstract text. Information included in tables or images does not count toward this limit.

1. Identify the two to three key learning points from the case or study.

These will be your guide for what’s most important to retain from your initial drafts.

2. Write your abstract as if there is no word limit.

Counter intuitive, I know! The benefit being that this longer rendition may help prepare you for your conference poster presentation (fingers crossed!) or possibly as a basis for a future journal manuscript.

3. Review your draft carefully, considering each piece of information and its relevance to your outlined points.

If it’s not crucial to the key learning points of the abstract, delete it.

4. Review your draft again, eliminating or substituting unnecessary words or phrases.

Being concise and to the point with your words is key. Save your extraneous adjectives for a different occasion.

5. Send your draft to a mentor or your attending for edits.

This cannot be stressed enough. It is always helpful to get another set of eyes for editing, but particularly if you’re a trainee. At least one set of eyes should be of a mentor or attending, ideally one that has expertise in the topic.

Once you’ve reviewed these tips, head over to the submission site and submit your abstract. The deadline to submit is Thursday, Dec. 2 at 21:00 Eastern time (UTC –5).

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