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AMA Style Guide

Use AMA Style (American Medical Association Style) to format papers.

General Formatting

Formatting a paper means using proper references within the text and bibliography, but also using the stylistic matters laid out in the AMA Manual of Style to format the text. This includes such factors as using headings and capitalizing them appropriately, line spacing, margins, text style issues (such as using "one" or "1", using AM or a.m. or A.M.), placement of page numbers, preferred font and spacing for graphs, preferred size and shape for tables, etc. This guide includes some basic help on manuscript style, but it is not extensive.

Consult the AMA Manual of Style for detailed information on manuscript style.

Acronyms, abbreviations, initialisms:

Acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms are discouraged from use, except for well-known and accepted units of measurement and some well-recognized terms. 

  • If used, spell out at the first use, even if the acronym or initialism is well-known. Do not place periods between the letters of an acronym, abbreviation or initialism.
  • State names should always appear as full names in the text of a manuscript. If included in references, use the two-letter abbreviation.

Numbers:

Numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.) should be used in all writing, except when:

  • The number begins the sentence or title
  • Common fractions
  • Ordinals: first through ninth
  • Number spelled out in quotations or titles of works cited.
  • One number may be spelled out, if the sentence requires multiple numbers to be placed next to each other. e.g., "If 12 16-year-olds had this reaction..." should be changed to "If twelve 16-year-olds..."

Time:

  • To indicate a time of day, use AM or PM in small capitals. (18.5.3)
  • Conventional 12-hour clock time is preferred. However, 24 hour or military time convention can also be used to convey precise timing when needed, such as when describing drug dosage regimens.

Dates:

  • When dates are provided in the text, use numerals for day and year, and write out the month, e.g., April 2, 2010.
  • If using dates in a table, you may use numerals for the month (e.g., 4/2/2010).

Measurements:

  • Use SI (Le Système International d'Unités) standards for writing measurements. Numbers are always written in plain text, there is a space after the number and prior to the unit, and never a period after the unit (unless it ends a sentence).
  • Do not include commas in longer numbers (e.g., 1600 km, not 1,600 km).
  • In the Reference List, references are listed numerically in the order they are cited in the text. Two references should not be combined under a single reference number.

General Formatting Tips:

  • Use Arabic superscript numerals outside periods and commas, inside colons and semicolons. When more than 2 references are cited at a given place in the manuscript, use hyphens to join the first and last numbers of a closed series; use commas without spaces to separate other parts of a multiple citation.
  • Use the author's surname followed by initials without periods or spaces. In listed references, the names of all authors should be given unless there are more than 6, in which case the names of the first 3 authors are used, followed by “et al.” Do not use and between names.
  • References to material not yet accepted for publication or to personal communications (oral, written, and electronic) are not acceptable as listed references and instead should be included parenthetically in the text.
  • Abbreviate and italicize names of journals. Use initial capital letters. Abbreviate according to the listing in the PubMed Journals database. For information on how journal title abbreviations are constructed, see http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/factsheets/constructitle.html.
  • In article titles, capitalize only the first letter of the first word, proper names, and abbreviations that are ordinarily capitalized. 

Please note: Some browsers may show italicized text as underlined. When preparing bibliographies based on any of the formats addressed by this series, italics are specified, and should be used. 

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