Writing in AMA
Michael Frizell, Director
the Writing Center
AMA The skinny…
Manual of Style, 10th Edition n Cost: $50 to $60
n Weighs 4.2 lbs
n 1,032 pages
n Amazon.com Reviews:
n “Style manuals are written either for editors
or for authors, rarely for both. The AMA
manual is a text only editors could love, it
serves the interests of authors mostly as
an afterthought.” – Dr. Abel Scribe
n “…it never seems to fail that what I am
looking for, I can't find. The Index could
use quite a bit of work. In addition, this text
is quite expensive, in my humble opinion.
..this text is "A Necessary Evil." -- David
Wexler, “Edit Ink”
A review from “Doc
n From the preface: "I never cease to be amazed by the general
inability of physicians, other health professionals, and scientists to
communicate through the written word. Their scholarly and creative
ideas and insightful data interpretation of them seem to get lost in
the translation from brain to page" (p. v).
n The quality of medical writing has dramatically improved since a
young Dr. Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, tv's ER) wrote in the
pages of the New England Journal that "medical writing is bad, but
its functions are perfectly understandable as a display of scientific
[editorial?] profundity, not as an attempt to communicate
experience" (December 11, 1975;293:1257-1259).
n Apparently this malaise, and foot-in-mouth disease to boot, now
afflicts the AMA's editors.
n Curmudgeoning aside, is the 1000-page text usable? …if you are
looking for guidance on the most common problems confronted by
a writer, you have a monumental task before you.
nt a paper in a format familiar to persons
who read medical literature.
Text page format of essays
n 12-point or 10-point font. There is no requirement for the typeface. A serif font is commonly
used in publication (eg, times roman).
n One-half inch
n Double space throughout unless instructed otherwise, such as:
n Single space within the abstract, notes, titles and headings, block quotes, tables and figures,
and references (everything but the main text), double space before and after each single
n Block paragraph spacing is recommended for final manuscripts.
n Page numbers
n Every page of a research paper is numbered consecutively starting with the title page. Do
not change numbering systems through the text, even with lengthy data sets or appendixes.
Style of Essay Titles, Headings and
Title and Major Section
Centered or Flush Left
Title Case Applies
FIRST LEVEL HEADING
Second Level Heading
Third Level Heading
NOTE: The third level heading is a run-in or paragraph heading
In the text…
n Reference authors with superscripts
n Reference authors in the text each
time they are mentioned. Use the Give only the surname(s) of the
same number for a given author as author(s) when mentioning the
the first time that author was cited. author(s). If a reference has more
than two authors, use only the
EXAMPLE: surname of the first author followed
by "et al." If a reference has only two
authors, list both.
Jones,1 Smith2(p.315) and Garcia Writing Tip:
and Zabihi3 Journal requirements may vary according
to the journal. Departments may also vary
in their requirements. JADA, for example,
n Consecutive #’s omits page numbers and superscript and
n Superscripts places the reference number in parentheses.
In the text…
n If a reference is cited more than once, and separate parts of the reference are
used, place the page number in parenthesis following the superscript citation.
Always give the page number when using a direct quote.
n Jones and her colleagues base the treatment approach on more conservative and traditional
• In text references
Journal often use the
Variation and omit the page(s)
Direct Quotes in the Paper
Direct quotes (in ? marks) must be cited with the
appropriate reference #
n EXAMPLE: n EXAMPLE:
n The report further cited n He points out that although
"lingering confusion about these works are at risk for
the vaccination program's "traumatic injuries, noise-
aims."22(p5-6) induced hearing loss, needle
sticks, hydrogen sulfide and
n NOTE: carbon monoxide poisonings,
n Superscript and infectious diseases,"16(p586)
n Lack of spacing between respiratory illness is the most
citation and text recognized occupational risk.
n Reuse original number when n Note:
citing the same source more n Space AFTER the citation when it
In the text….personal
n …is only cited within
the text, not the
In a thought-provoking conversation
reference list. B
with P. Jafari, MD (June 2005)…
n It’s unpublished! EXAMPLE TWO:
n It’s unrecoverable data! According to the drug manufacturer
(P. Jafari, President, Pharmacorp;
• Mode of
• Date of
oral communication; January, 2005),
• Written, Oral
• Month, Year
news reports of unethical drug
No Citation Number is Necessary!
n In a conversation with Dr. Awilda
Haskins, PT, EdD (August 2005).
n According to a letter from Dr.
Awilda Haskins, PT, EdD in
August 2005. . .
n Similar findings have been noted
by Dr. Awilda Haskins, PT, EdD
(written communication, August
2005). . .
n According to the author (Dr.
Awilda Haskins, PT, EdD, oral
communication, August 2005). .
Reference List Basics
n Present references in
the order cited in the
paper on a separate n Works with no more than six (6)
authors: include all authors'
page… surnames and first and middle
name initials separated by
n at the end of the commas. Do not use periods for
manuscript… initials (e.g. Garcia EF, Zabihi
GH. Transmission …).
n labeled “References”…
n Works with seven (7) or more
n including only those authors: list only the first three
cited in the text. (3) names followed by "et al" (e.g.
Haskins AR, Himburg SP,
Remember: Some Journals George V, et al. Daring to be…).
Vary in their
EXAMPLE: Reference List
1. Jones AB. Modes of treatment: A traditional approach. Phys Ther. 1999;80:20-26.
2. Smith CD. Transmission modes and treatment approaches. 3rd ed. Miami (FL):
University Presses; 1999.
3. Garcia EF, Zabihi GH. Transmission modes. New York (NY): NYU Press;
4. Mohamed IJ. Principles of treatment. In: Needles DD, Thread OE, editors. What
about? Putnam (NY): Happy Days Press; 1998:29-39.
5. Haskins AR, Himburg SP, George V, et al. Daring to be different: A less traditional
style. Clin Mgmt in Educ. 2000;26(1):9-19.
6. Abood S. Quality improvement initiative in nursing homes: the ANA acts in an
role. Am J Nurs [serial on the Internet]. 2002 Jun [cited 2002 Aug 12];102(6):[about
Available at: http://www.nursingworld.org/AJN/2002/june/Wawatch.htm. Accessed
n Author(s). Title of book and subtitle (if any). Volume number and
volume title (when there is more than 1 volume). Edition number
(do not indicate first edition). Place of publication: Name of
publisher; Year of copyright.
Author’s last name and initials
Chapter titles are included
Book Title NOT in Title Case (Like This!)
Volume only if there is more than one
Punctuation in cite is specific
BOOK WITH ONE AUTHOR/EDITOR
n Davis NM. Medical Abbreviations: 26,000 Conveniences at the expense of
communications and cafety. 12th ed. Huntingdon Valley, PA: Neil M.Davis
n McEvoy GK, ed in chief, Snow ED, ed. AHFS: Drug information. Bethesda, MD:
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists; 2008:1125-1126.
BOOK WITH TWO OR MORE AUTHORS/EDITORS
Aronoff GR, Berns JS, Brier ME, et al. Drug prescribing in renal failure. 4th ed. Philadelphia,
PA: American College of Physicians; 1999:39.
CHAPTER IN A BOOK
Johannsen EC, Madoff LC. Infections of the liver and biliary system. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JC,
Dolin R, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s: Principles and practice of infectious disease. Vol
1. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2005:951-952.
References: PRINT JOURNALS
n Author(s). Article title. Journal Name. Year;volume:inclusive
n Use the AMA accepted Journal Abbreviations for the journal’s title
Article title not in title case (except Proper Nouns), but…
Journal Name is in Title Case
Issue month or number
Each element is followed by a period
No spaces between the year, volume, pages
Pages separated by an en-dash
Examples: PRINT JOURNALS
TYPICAL JOURNAL ARTICLE REFERENCE
Smith J, Canton EM. Weight-based administration of dalteparin in obese patients.
Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2003;60(7):683-687.
Note: If the journal does not have a volume or issue number, use the issue date.
6 OR MORE AUTHORS
Hunter DJ, Hankinson SE Jr, Laden F, et al. Plasma organochlorine levels and the risk of breast
cancer. N Engl J Med. 1997;337(18):1253-1258.
If more than 6 authors, list first 3, then et al
COMMITTEE/GROUP/ORGANIZATION AS AUTHO
Council on Scientific Affairs. Scientific issues in drug testing. JAMA. 1987;257(22):3110-3114.
The choice of antibacterial drugs. Med Lett Drugs Ther. 1998;40(1023):33-42.
Lamasil [package insert]. East Hanover, NJ: Sandoz Pharmaceuticals Corp; 1993.
Steinmetz G. Kafka is a symbol of Prague today; also, he’s a T-shirt. Wall Street Journal.
October 10, 1996:A1, A6.
Clinical Pharmacology [computer program]. Version 2.07. Tampa, FL: Gold Standard
Note: Dates associated with various software may be updates or file dates.
WRITING TIP: Mind the capitalization rules for sources!
References: ONLINE SOURCES
Author(s), if give and many times there are none; title of the specific item cited, if any;
name of the Web site; URL; published and/or update, if any; accessed date.
n Same as other sources (in a sense)
n Always include the web address (URL) and the date accessed
No underlines! Remove the hyperlink
Include as much info as possible
Make sure your source is credible
Use the words Available at: before the http://... NO
Use the word Accessed before the date
Example: ONLINE SOURCES
GENERAL INTERNET SOURCE
FDA/CEDR resources page. Food and Drug Administration Web site. Available at:
http://www.fda.gov/cder/approval/index.htm. Accessed April 7, 2007.
Clinical Pharmacology Web site. Available at: http://cpip.gsm.com.ezproxy.samford.edu/.
Accessed June 23, 2006.
PDQ® - NCI's Comprehensive Cancer Database. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute; 2007.
Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cancerdatabase.Updated June 9, 2006.
Accessed April 16, 2007.
ONLINE JOURNAL W/VOLUME & PAGE INFO.
Simon JA, Hudes ES. Relationship of ascorbic acid to blood lead levels. JAMA. 1999;281:2289-
2293. Available at: http://url. Accessed July 11, 2009.
ONLINE JOURNAL WITHOUT VOLUME & PAGE IN
Mast CT, DeMuro-Mercon C, Kelly CM, Floyd LE, Ealter EB. The impact of rotavirus
gastroenteritis on the family. BMC Pediatrics. 2009;9:11. doi:10.1186/1471-2431-9-11
The DOI: Digital Object Identifier
§ The DOI is like a social security number for a source. It is meant to
help readers find the exact source you are referencing.
§ You can type a DOI into Google and get the exact source.
§ All DOI numbers begin with a 10 and contain a prefix and a suffix
separated by a slash.
§ Not all sources have DOIs.
§ If the source has a DOI, cite it after the rest of the citation is finished:
Brownlie, D. Toward effective poster presentations: An annotated
bibliography. European Journal of Marketing, 41(11/12), 1245-
Helpful Websites and
http://www.liunet.edu/cwis/cwp/library/workshop/citama.htm (very basic)
http://healthlinks.washington.edu/hsl/styleguides/ama.html (more detailed)
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/uniform_requirements.html (very detailed)
Cites Used to Create this Presentation:
http://chua2.fiu.edu/faculty/haskins/PHT6970/AMA%20Style.htm (all the basics)
http://www.ajph.org/misc/ama_references.shtml (one of my favorites)
Information for Authors:
§ Michael Frizell, Writing Center Director
§ Phone number 417-836-5006
§ Office: Meyer Library 112
§ Writing Center
§ First floor Meyer Library – The Bear Claw
§ Phone Number 417-836-6398
§ Supplemental Instruction