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AMA Style Guide

This guide is intended to introduce you to the basics of citation formatting as outlined in the 11th edition of the AMA Manual of Style


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Kristina Dorsett

What is AMA Style?

The American Medical Association (AMA) style is primarily used to cite references in the medical research field and other health sciences.  The information contained in this guide is based on the AMA Manual of Style 11th Edition that was updated in January, 2020.  We have a physical copy of this manual available at the reference desk on the main floor of Wolfgram Memorial Library.  Additional guidelines have been added to meet the requirements of the Physical Therapy programs at Widener University and should not be considered standard.  Please consult your instructor, publisher, or department guidelines.

Why AMA?

Being familiar with AMA style helps with writing papers, but it also leads to a greater understanding of medical research publications.  The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) sets the standard for medical research and publishes in AMA style.  Once you have experience with AMA, you will know where to find the most important information contained in a publication and have fewer questions about the notations and vocabulary used in medical research.

How is AMA Different?

  • AMA style uses numerical in-text citations that refer to a reference list.  This means that the reference list is in sequential order of when the sources were first cited in the paper.   
  • AMA style recommends specific terminology that can be found in the AMA Manual.  This includes correct and preferred usage of words and phrases, abbreviations, and nomenclature.  Using these standards ensures that the research and the readers are focused on the same topic.
  • Names of journals in citations are abbreviated according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).  The best way to find these abbreviations is through the NLM Catalog

Using This Guide

The purpose of this guide is to assist with citations, reference lists, and basic formatting guidelines consistent with the AMA Manual of Style, 11th ed., and the needs of the Physical Therapy program at Widener.  If you have additional questions about performing research or using preferred vocabulary, the AMA Manual of Style is available at the reference desk.

Navigation Menu

The menu at the top left of this guide contains quick links to the following information:

  • How to Cite...: includes sample citations for the most common references and an AMA style rubric to assist with creating your own citations.  Advanced citations are organized in sub-pages.
  • In-Text Citations: an overview of numerical citations
  • Elements of AMA Style: contains a sample paper and detailed descriptions of the 4 elements of AMA style papers (title page, abstract, text, and references)