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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

Title Page

The AMA Manual of Style does not have specific font type or size requirements for publications.  They do recommend including authors’ complete names on the title page, following the title.  They also recommend putting author information in footnotes on the title page.  Individual journals or assignments may have their own requirements.

Titles

Titles should be concise, specific, and informative.  Publishers or assignments may have specific title requirements.  Avoid cute or overly generic titles.  A good rule of thumb is to include these key terms in order:

  1. Exposure/Intervention
  2. Outcome
  3. Population
  4. Study Type

Example: Effect of Behavioral Interventions (1) on Inappropriate Antibiotic Prescribing (2) Among Primary Care Practices (3): A Randomized Clinical Trial (4)

Subtitles

Subtitles should be useful in expanding on the title.  The title should be able to stand on its own and the subtitle is meant to complement it without including too much detail.  Subtitles may also contain the type of study performed or the name of the group responsible for the study.

Authors

Complete names of all authors should be included on the title page following the title or as the publisher or assignment specifies.  Authors' names should be consistent in all forms of the text.  The order of the authors should be determined by the following criteria:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content
  • Final approval of the version to be published
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to accuracy or integrity are appropriately investigated and resolved

Author Footnotes

Author footnotes should be included on the title page or as specified by your publisher/assignment.  Include these in order:

  1. Author Affiliations
  2. Information about members of a group (if there is a group author)
  3. Corresponding author contact information

If there is a group author, you may separately identify and tag members of the group who were authors, non-author collaborators, and other members of the group.

Abstract

An abstract summarizes the main points of an article and it is meant to stand alone to represent the article.  In many databases, the abstract is searched for keywords and the full text of the article isn't.  If someone doesn't have access to the full text of an article, they will judge whether to purchase access (or request through Inter-Library Loan) by the abstract.  Abstracts are usually 350 words or less, but publishers or assignments may have other requirements. There are two types of abstracts, structured and unstructured.  An unstructured abstract is a paragraph without section headings.  More information on structured abstracts can be found below.

General Guidelines

  • Don't begin by restating the title
  • Don't cite references or URLs in the abstract - save it for the body of the paper!
  • Include major terms
  • Include the hypothesis or study question if applicable
  • All of the concepts and data mentioned in the abstract must be in the full text

Some publications or assignments may require keywords.

Structured Abstracts

An abstract with section headings.  Different kinds of papers require different headings, but they should always match the text of the article.  If your article doesn't have the section in the text, exclude it from the abstract.

Report of Original Data (including Systematic Review with Meta-Analyses)
  • Importance
  • Objective
  • Design
  • Setting
  • Participants
  • Intervention(s) or Exposure(s)
  • Main Outcome(s) and Measure(s)
  • Results
  • Conclusions and Relevance
  • Trial Registration
Meta-Analysis
  • Importance
  • Objective
  • Data Sources
  • Study Selection
  • Data Extraction and Synthesis
  • Main Outcome(s) and Measure(s)
  • Results
  • Conclusions and Relevance
Systematic Review without Meta-Analysis
  • Importance
  • Objective
  • Evidence Review
  • Findings
  • Conclusions and Relevance
Narrative Review
  • Importance
  • Observations
  • Conclusions and Relevance

Text

The body of your paper will be divided into sections called headings.  You can also have sub-headings within these sections.  While the AMA Style Guide does not give specific font style or size, it recommends being consistent throughout the paper. 

Recommendations

  • Always put your headings or sub-headings on their own line.  The text of the section should follow after a return.
  • Prepare three levels of headings and sub-headings.
  • Use simple formatting to distinguish your headings from each other and the body text.  Consider the font style and size as well as the quality of the font if it is bold or italicized.  Changing just one element is enough - BE CONSISTENT
  • Don't introduce abbreviations for the first time in a heading.
  • Don't use citations in your headings for references, tables, or figures.  Put these in the body text.

Section Headings

Introduction:

States the main focus of the paper, why it is important or significant, and gives relevant background information

Methods:

Outlines the steps taken in performing the research described in the paper in such a way that it can be replicated

Results:

The data, qualitative or quantitative, that was produced during the research of this paper

Discussion:

An interpretation of the results and how they relate to the main focus of the paper and other similar studies

Conclusions and Relevance:

The article should end with a clear conclusion that does not go beyond the findings and a statement of relevance.

References

References should be included after the body of your paper.  They should start on their own page with number 1 and match the order of citations in the text.