A Cheat Sheet for Formatting Papers per AMA Guidelines

A Cheat Sheet for Formatting Papers per AMA Guidelines
Created by Elizabeth S. Moore, PhD on March 31, 2015.
The AMA Manual of Style was designed for use by biomedical professionals. However, the
guidelines for formatting, appearance, and documenting sources can be easily applied to an
academic setting.
Most of the examples and explanations included in this document are based on the American
Medical Association (AMA) Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors. 10th ed. New York,
NY: Oxford University Press, 2007. Unfortunately, the AMA Manual of Style is not explicit in its
discussion of format. In areas in which the manual was not explicit, the author guidelines for
Physical Therapy were used since this is the official journal of the American Physical Therapy
Association. If you are not sure of the formatting after consulting this document and the
document written by Dr. Scribe, check the guidelines for Physical Therapy provided at the
Academic papers need not be dull or lack style.
• Use active voice throughout
• Be specific and concise
• Avoid flowery or figurative language
• Vary sentence length and complexity to add interest
Academic papers are treated as “copy manuscripts”.
• A serif type font, such as Times New Roman or Courier, is generally recommended for
the body of the document
• A sans serif type font, such as Arial or Tahoma, is generally recommended for table and
figures (Note some journals require same font for all sections of the manuscript.)
• Font size 12 point for all sections of the paper
• Margins: Use one inch margins on all pages
• Line spacing: Double-space the entire document (Note this is opposed to guidelines
provided by Dr. Scribe and other AMA guidelines documents.)
• Left-justify paragraphs
• First line indented 0.5”
• Page numbering: each page, beginning with the title page, should be numbered
consecutively. Page numbers are usually place in the upper, right corner in header (flush
Created by Elizabeth S. Moore, PhD on March 31, 2015.
A short title header goes at the top of the page, aligned with the page number and left
margin (flush left)
Sections, in order of appearance: (1) Title page, (2) Abstract, (3) Body of article, (4)
Acknowledgments, (5) References, (6) Tables, (7) Figure legends, (8) Figures, (9) Video
legends, (10) Appendixes
Title Page:
• This is the first page of the manuscript
• Center the title
o Titles should not be vague and should reflect measured variables.
o Titles should be no longer than 150 characters (including punctuation and
• Your name and highest level of degree attained
• E-mail address
• Author’s affiliation
• Word count (not including abstract and reference list)
• Make your title page its own page
• Do not use abbreviations or acronyms in the manuscript title
This is the second page of the manuscript even though several sources report that AMA style
has the title page and abstract combined. When possible, avoid using abbreviations or
acronyms in the abstract.
A structured abstract is required for reports of original data, systematic reviews, or clinical
reviews. Per Physical Therapy, the word limit is 275 words, but this varies from journal to
journal and usually ranges from 150 to 275. The sections of the abstract are dependent on the
type of research conducted (e.g., clinical trial, qualitative study, quality improvement study,
etc.) The basic sections include:
Introduction (Context): question or issue addressed
Method: includes design, setting and participants
Results: major findings
Discussion (Conclusions): answers to the question and clinical application
An unstructured (or conventional) abstract is required for all other major manuscripts. It should
follow the title page of the document. It should be no more than 150 words.
Created by Elizabeth S. Moore, PhD on March 31, 2015.
Headings should be used to divide and subdivide the paper into logical and sometimes
sequential sections.
• Level 1 headings are single-spaced if more than one line is required, bold font, and
heading capitalization.
• Level 2 headings are flush left, bold, and heading capitalization.
• Level 3 headings are to be paragraph indented, bold, and sentence capitalization.
• Level 4 headings are to be paragraph indented, italicized, and sentence capitalization.
AMA uses numeral for numbers except:
Ordinals first through ninth
Numbers used as pronouns
Numbers that begin a sentences, title, subtitle, or heading
Numbers spelled out in direct quotations
Use specific nomenclature. AMA tends not to use punctuation following abbreviations. Chapter
14 of the AMA Manual contains extensive list of approved abbreviations.
• Enclose a direct quote of no more than four typewritten lines in double quotation
For quotes longer than four lines, use a block format in reduced type without quotation
A superscript number is added at the end of the quotation and the citation is listed with
the other references.
This is the third page of the manuscript. The title is repeated on the page, serving as a Level 1
heading. It is centered, in bold and heading capitalization. You do not use the heading
“Introduction”, since all papers begin with an introduction.
Each reference should be cited in the text, tables, or figures in consecutive numerical order by
means of superscript Arabic numerals, e.g., it has been reported.25 Number the citations in
order as they appear in the text. Each superscript much match one reference in the References
Created by Elizabeth S. Moore, PhD on March 31, 2015.
list. When citing a previously used source, reuse the same superscript number. A sentence can
contain more than one citation. Multiple superscripts are acceptable, separating each with a
comma (no space in front), e.g., it has been reported.25,34,68
The superscript numbers should be placed outside periods and commas, and inside colons and
• Example: As reported in a previous study,2
• Example: The results of the study support my thesis7; however, further studies should
be done to replicate the results.
If more than two references are cited in a row, use a hyphen to join the first and last numbers
of a closed series. Use commas without a space between numbers.
• Example: The derived data were as follows,1,3-8,19
Page numbers are required for direct quotations; they are enclosed in parentheses.
• Example, it has been reported.25,34,68,84(p42),102(pp7-9)
If a citation has more than 23 characters, including spaces and punctuation, use an asterisk (*)
in the text and put the citation in a footnote at the bottom of the page.
• Example: As reported previously,*
*References 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 21, 24-29, 31.
A reference page lists all of the works that you use in your paper. The reference page goes at
the end of the document. The title “References” is centered at the top of separate page. List
references numerically in the order by when they were cited in the text. The first reference
cited in text should be listed first. Single-space within citations and double-space between
citations. To create a References page, use the following examples to put your references in the
proper format. If a reference extends to the next line, DO NOT indent the line. Do not include
personal communications in the text. Include the Digital Object Identifier (DOI), if available, for
electronic journals in place of the URL.
Entries are preceded by their number and are given in numerical order.
Author format:
• Use the author’s surname followed by initials without periods, e.g., Garcia EF, Zahihi GH.
• Multiple authors (up to six) are separated by commas.
• Do not use “and” between multiple authors.
• For more than six authors, first three listed followed by “et al.”
Created by Elizabeth S. Moore, PhD on March 31, 2015.
Title format:
Titles retain the spelling, abbreviations, and style for numbers used in the original.
Books: capitalize the first letter of each major word.
Journal articles: Capitalize the first letter of the first word, proper names, and abbreviations
that are normally capitalized.
Capitalize the first letter of every major word in a title and subtitle and italicize the entire title.
Book with One Author:
1. Sacks O. Uncle Tungsten. New York, NY: Alfred A Knopf; 2001.
Book with Two to Six Authors: Separate the authors’ names using a comma.
Book with Seven or More Authors: List the first three authors, and then put “et al.”
Book with an Editor:
1. Galanter M, ed. Services Research in the Era of Managed Care. New York, NY: Kluwer
Academic/Plenum; 2001.
Book by an Organization:
2. World Health Organization. Injury: A Leading Cause of the Global Burden of Disease,
2000. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2002.
Book of Second or Later Edition:
3. Adkinson N, Yunginger J, Busse W, Bochner B, Holgate S, Middleton E, eds. Middleton’s
Allergy: Principles and Practice. 6th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2003.
Book Chapter:
4. Solensky R. Drug allergy: desensitization and treatment of reactions to antibiotics and
aspirin. In: Lockey P, ed. Allergens and Allergen Immunotherapy. 3rd ed. New York, NY:
Marcel Dekker; 2004:585‐606.
Electronic Book:
1. Rudolph CD, Rudolph AM. Rudolph's Pediatrics. 21st ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
Companies; 2002.
82&FxID=13&offset=7&SessionId=A3F279FQVVFXFSXQ. Accessed August 22, 2007.
Abbreviate the title according to NLM Guidelines
Italicize journal titles
Full text journal articles obtained via the web, but available in hard copy are not cited as
online serials, but as a regular journal article.
Created by Elizabeth S. Moore, PhD on March 31, 2015.
Capitalize only the first letter of the first word of the article title and subtitles begin with
a lowercase letter
Journal article (1-6 authors):
1. Hu P, Reuben DB. Effects of managed care on the length of time that elderly patients
spend with physicians during ambulatory visits. Med Care. 2002;40(7):606-613.
Journal article with more than six authors:
2. Geller AC, Venna S, Prout M, et al. Should the skin cancer examination be taught in
medical school? Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(9):1201-1203.
Journal article with no named author or group name:
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Licensure of a meningococcal
conjugate vaccine (Menveo) and guidance for use--Advisory Committee on
Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2010. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2010;59(9):273.
Electronic Journal article:
If you have a doi (preferred):
4. Gage BF, Fihn SD, White RH. Management and dosing of warfarin therapy. The
American Journal of Medicine. 2000;109(6):481-488. doi:10.1016/S00029343(00)00545-3.
If you do not have a doi:
5. Aggleton JP. Understanding anterograde amnesia: disconnections and hidden lesions. Q
J Exp Psychol. 2008;61(10):14
Cite the author (if given), title of item cited (if none given, use the organization name), name of
the Web site, URL, published date (if given), updated date (if given) and accessed date.
1. Truth and reconciliation: examining human rights violations in South Africa’s health
sector. American Association for the Advancement of Science Web site.
http://shr.aaas.org/trc‐med/presub.htm. Published 1997. Accessed April 30, 2004.
ONLINE NEWSPAPERS (For a print newspaper article, follow same as below, but omit the URL.)
2. Weiss R. The promise of precision prescriptions. Washington Post. June 24, 2000:A1.
http://www.washingtonpost.com. Accessed October 10, 2001.
3. Dafney L, Gruber J. Does public insurance improve the efficiency of medical care?
Medicaid expansions and child hospitalizations. http://www.nber.org/papers/w755.
Published February 2000. Accessed February 26, 2004.
Created by Elizabeth S. Moore, PhD on March 31, 2015.
4. Collins F. Talk presented at: National Human Research Protections Advisory Committee;
April 9, 2001; Bethesda, MD. http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/nhrpac/mtg04‐01/0409mtg.txt.
Accessed February 26, 2004.
Created by Elizabeth S. Moore, PhD on March 31, 2015.
1. American Medical Association (AMA). AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and
Editors. 10th Edition. New York: Oxford University Press; 2007.
2. Learning and Outreach Services. Texas A&M University Libraries. Using the AMA Format.
Published Summer 2009. Accessed August 7, 2014.
3. Health Sciences Library, New York Medical College. AMA (American Medical Association)
Reference Citation Format. http://library.nymc.edu/informatics/amastyle.cfm Updated
August 25, 2010. Accessed August 7, 2014.
Created by Elizabeth S. Moore, PhD on March 31, 2015.