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AMA Format: Home

An introduction to AMA style for academic papers based on the AMA Manual of Style, 11th edition

AMA Style

AMA style is the format used by the American Medical Association. It is used for scholarly papers in health sciences.

AMA Style Basics

Format: While the AMA Manual of Style specifies few requirements for the layout of student papers, the following guidelines are generally accepted:

  • Set margins at 1 inch on all sides
  • Put page numbers in the upper right corner
  • Double space
  • Consult your instructor regarding the use of a title page and running head

Abbreviations:

  • On first use of an abbreviation, include the expanded form of the term, using lower case letters (except for proper nouns or at the beginning of a sentence)
  • Avoid using an abbreviation at the beginning of a sentence or as the only term in a heading
  • Do not introduce an abbreviation for the first time in a heading
  • Do not capitalize abbreviated units of measure. (See the AMA handbook, p. 630ff, for accepted abbreviations of units of measure)
  • Do not use abbreviations for states in the text of a paper
  • When a person’s initials are used in the text of the paper, each letter should be followed by a period
  • Abbreviations and Roman numerals following names (e.g., John Jefferson Jr, Teri Han MD, Elizabeth II) are not preceded by commas or followed by periods
  • Some titles are abbreviated only when they precede full names: Fr Raymond Brown, but Father Brown. Other titles are always abbreviated: Dr, Mr, Mrs, Ms
  • On list of references, abbreviate all names of journals except single word names: Academic Medicine is written as Acad Med, but Anaesthesia is written as Anaesthesia. Consult https://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/aim.html for information on journal names and abbreviations

Inclusive Language:

  • Avoid using “non-“ as a prefix for categories of people (e.g., “white and nonwhite participants”
  • The word sex refers to biological characteristics of a person. Use the word gender to refer to a person’s personal/cultural identity
  • Gender neutral words are preferred, but gender specific terms (e.g., chairwoman) may be used when referring to a particular individual of known sex. Avoid sex-specific pronouns when the person’s sex is not relevant, but don’t use “common-gender” pronouns such as s/he. Instead, try to reword the sentence (e.g., by using a plural noun) or use he or she. The pronoun they may be used when rewording the sentence would make the sentence confusing or awkward.
  • Don’t use adjectives relating to disease, socio-economic status, etc., to label people (e.g., unemployed persons or stroke victims).

Names of Organizations: Write out the names of organizations in full on first reference, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. Do not use periods in acronyms.

Numbers:

Use numerals for most numbers, with the following exceptions:

  • Write out a number that begins a sentence, title, subtitle, or heading
  • Write out common fractions (e.g., “two-thirds of the subjects” or “a half-minute warning”)
  • Write out ordinal numbers under 10th (e.g., “the third patient”)
  • Write out numbers that are spelled out in quotations or titles of articles
  • Write out “one” when used as a pronoun (e.g., “One should be careful”)

When using numerals, remember to:

  • Use a thin space (not a comma) to separate every three digits to the left of the decimal point in large numbers
  • Insert a space after the number in temperatures: 37.5 °C
  • Write the numbers in angles and longitude/latitude without inserting spaces between numbers and symbols: 45° angle, 45°35'N

Quotations:

  • For a quotation up to four lines long, use quotation marks and incorporate the quote in your text
  • For a quotation longer than four lines long:
    • Do not use quotation marks
    • Indent the whole quote half an inch from the left margin
    • Reduce the type size
    • Add an additional line space between the quotation and the rest of the text
    • Indicate change of case in the first letter of a quote with brackets: e.g., “[T]his”

Singular "They": The pronoun "they" may be used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun if the sentence cannot be rewritten to exclude gender