Most people new to research writing have a common bad experience; they finish their paper, just to find that it has to go through some fine-toothed editing to make sure it’s meeting the requirement of your citation style.
Although using the correct formatting for citations is tiresome, it’s also necessary. In an academic setting, citations are a significant component of any research, and they’re a key factor in whether your paper will be published by scholarly journals.
If you don’t already know, the acronym in the AMA citation style stands for American Medical Association. If you work in the medical field, then you are likely familiar with it already.
So, why is citation so important?
In regards to the AMA style specifically, it’s important because it provides clear understanding and a shared set of language rules for clarity. Since health and safety are a top priority for medical professionals, using proper citation formats is even more vital than it is in other disciplines. You definitely don’t want to make an error when it comes to citing medical studies!
That’s why, in this article, we’ll be tackling the AMA style. But before we get into the technicalities of how to cite AMA style, let’s first define it and take a look into its history.
What is AMA Style?
The AMA citation style was developed by the American Medical Association for medical research. Its first edition was released in October 1962. The editors of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) are the body who write the AMA style guide and continually update it. Presently, the AMA style manual is on its 10th edition, with its 11th edition currently in progress.
There are a few characteristics that set the AMA style format apart from the others:
- In-text citations use superscript Arabic numerals that correspond to a reference from your reference list, instead of author names or publication years.
- Unlike other citation styles that require you to arrange sources alphabetically, the AMA style lists references based on the order of appearance or use in the text.
- When searching for AMA scholarly articles, you will also notice that titles are abbreviated in the NLM format.
|Article Title||NLM Title Abbreviation|
|Health, Education & Behavior||Health Educ Behav|
The AMA style is used by members of the medical field, such as doctors, medical students, and medical scientists. And, just like other intellectual fields, research is published in journals, books, and articles.
How to cite sources in AMA Style
When citing authors and adding in quotes, here are the rules to follow.
In-text citations reference information within the body of work. In the AMA citation style, you include in-text citations at the end of the sentence. At the end of a referenced sentence, an Arabic numeral superscript is placed to indicate which reference is being cited.
Here are a few examples of in-text citations in AMA style:
|One source||…children’s health outcomes and income level were correlated in this meta-analysis.¹|
|With page number||…Davis found that “axolotls behaviour was altered by their environment.”²⁽ᵖ²⁾|
|Multiple sources||…various studies have found that depression is linked to anxiety.¹⁽ᵖ¹⁾, ³|
|Consecutive sources||..this finding was replicated in Thompson’s initial and subsequent studies.³⁻⁴|
|Sources 26 characters and above (including spaces and punctuations)||The citation will not have numbers, but have an asterisk instead.*
Your footnote should be placed at the bottom of the page, along with references and page numbers, and should look like this: *References 2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20,22-26, 28, 30.
Here are some other general rules to note:
- An in-text citation can use multiple references to back up a single sentence.
- Keep in mind that all characters used in your in-text citations are also written in superscript.
- If the punctuation mark used is a period or comma, then the in-text citation is placed after.
- If the punctuation mark used is a colon or semicolon, then the in-text citation is placed before.
- In rare cases where a citation has over 26 characters (punctuation and spaces included), then put an asterisk in its place and write the citation on a footnote at the bottom of the page.
When using a direct quote, the sentence used is copied word for word from the source material.
Here’s an example of a direct quote cited in AMA style:
|Original Text||Direct Quote|
|This could increase longevity in a variety of mammals, not just rats.||As Jone said about their finding, “This could increase longevity in a variety of mammals, not just rats.”¹|
After the quoted text, place the in-text citation right after the closing quotation mark. Don’t include it inside the punctuation.
An indirect quote or paraphrase is what’s normally used throughout the body of a paper. Unlike a direct quote, an indirect quote just paraphrases information or refers to a previous scholar’s work or ideas. When paraphrasing, try to keep your work concise and get only the important bits of information necessary for your work. That way, you’ll avoid unintentional plagiarism.
Here’s an example of an indirect quote cited in AMA style:
|Original Text||Indirect Quote/Paraphrase|
|Octopi have shown they have an extremely high intelligence compared to other invertebrates throughout the animal kingdom. Some of their behaviours displayed include opening jars, changing colour, and fitting through small tubing to escape their aquariums.||Octopi show a variety of intelligent behaviours, such as opening jars and adapting their colour to their environment.¹|
After writing out all the other pieces of your journal article, you need to cite all the sources you used throughout your work. Your references are at the end of the paper and should be placed on a new page, separate from the body.
Here is an example page to give you an idea:
|Reference List Example|
1. AuthorLastName Initial/s. Title in sentence case. Journal Title in Italicised Title Case. Year;Issue#(Volume):Page/-Pages
2. Bai X. Influence of liver cirrhosis on blood glucose, insulin sensitivity and islet function in mice. American Journal of the Medical Sciences. 2021;1(1):403-417. Published 2021. Accessed Oct 5, 2021.
3. Fortin, J. The mental health impacts of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis: A meta-analysis. British Journal of Cancer. 2002;2(2):2-9
4. Kader, M. & Naim-Shuchana, Saira. Physical activity and exercise during pregnancy. European Journal of Physiotherapy. 2013;4(4):2-9. doi: 10.3109/21679169.2013.861509
5. Christensen, S, Bellosta-Lopez, P, et al. Changes in Pain Sensitivity and Conditioned Pain Modulation During Recovery From Whiplash-associated Disorders. The Clinical Journal of Pain. 2005;5(5):5-15
6. Garcia N. Intermittent fasting benefits. Journal of Natural Healing. 2020:10-15
General Guidelines for Writing References:
Here are the guidelines you need to follow when writing references in AMA style:
- The first page of your references should be labelled accordingly as ‘References’ in bold aligned to the left.
- The references will use double spacing.
- References are arranged in order of initial use, so the first reference should correspond to the first citation and so on.
- The general format is stated in the first entry of the table above and is exemplified in the second entry.
- If an author has both a first and middle initial, write them down together.
- Article titles are written in sentence form unless there is a proper noun.
- Titles from books are still written in sentence form, but at the beginning of each major word and pronouns are capitalised.
- If authors are six or less, write down each author separated by a comma.
- If there are seven or more authors, write down the first three and then ‘et al.’ to represent the remaining authors.
- If there are no authors, begin with the title.
- Not all sources will have all the details exemplified in the general format. Sometimes, a reference does not have an issue or volume (refer to the sixth entry).
Different sources also have varying details. Depending on which source is used, the references input will vary in structure and information. The following tables will show the different types of sources along with sample templates of how references will look like.
Depending on the number of authors, you need to tweak your citation. Here are all the ways in which you can to cite books in the AMA citation style:
(Samples are fictionalised)
|Single author||Author AA. Title of Work. Location: Publisher; Year:Page-Page.||Smith J., American psychiatric medicine. New York: New York Publication; 2020:10|
|Two-six authors||Author AA, Author BB. Title of Work. Location: Publisher; Year:Page-Page.||Smith J, Johnson, S. American Psychiatric Medicine. New York: New York Publication; 2020:10-20|
|Seven or more authors||Author AA, Author BB, Author CC, et al. Title of Work. Location: Publisher; Year:PagePage.||Smith J, Johnson, S, Sanders JS, et al. American Psychiatric Medicine. New York: New York Publication; 2020:20-30.|
|Author/s and Editor/s||Author AA. Title of Work. Editor AA, Editor BB, eds. Location: Publisher; Year:PagePage.||Smith J. American Psychiatric Medicine. James SS, ed. New York: New York Publication; 2020:40.|
|Editor/s: no author||Editor AA, ed. Title of Work. Location: Publisher; Year:Page-Page.||James SS, Stone JJ, eds. American Psychiatric Medicine. New York: New York Publication; 2020:40-50.|
|Group as author||Group (Acronym if applicable). Title of Work. Location: Publisher; Year:Page-Page.||AMA. American Psychiatric Medicine. New York: New York Publication; 2020:60.|
|Chapter in book||Chapter Author AA. Title of chapter. In: Editor AA, ed. Title of Work. Location: Publisher; Year:Page-Page.||Smith J. Managing PTSD. In: James SS, ed. American Psychiatric Medicine. New York: New York Publication; 2020:70-80.|
|Electronic book||Author AA. Title of Work. Location: Publisher; Year:Page-Page. URL. Accessed date.||Sanders JS. American Psychiatric Medicine. New York: New York Publication; 2020:90. http://AmericanPsychiactricMedicine.com Accessed January 1, 2021.|
|Multiple editions||Author AA. Title of Work. Nth ed. Location: Publisher; Year:Page-Page.||Johnson S. American Psychiatric Medicine. 2nd ed. New York: New York Publication; 2020:90|
|Dictionary or Encyclopedia||Entry Author AA. Title of entry. In: Editor AA, ed. Title of Work. Location: Publisher; Year: Page-Page||Stevenson SJ. Psychological drugs. In: Jameson JS, ed. Dictionary of Psychiatric terms. New York: New York Publication; 2020:10|
|Online dictionary or encyclopedia||Entry Author AA. Title of entry. In: Editor AA, ed. Title of Work. Name of website. URL. Accessed date.||Stevenson SJ. Psychological drugs. In: Jameson JS, ed. Dictionary of Psychiatric and Psychological terms. American Psychiatric Medicine. http://AmericanPsychiactricMedicine.com. Accessed January 1, 2021.|
- When referencing one editor, end the entry with ‘ed’, when referencing two or more, end the entry with ‘eds’.
In the medical field, reports are abundant. And so, here are some ways to cite reports in AMA style:
(Samples are fictionalised)
|Online paper||Author AA. Title of Report. URL. Published/Updated/Revised date. Accessed date.||Smith J. A Study of Nomophobia. http://AmericanPsychology.com/NewConditions-Nomophobia. Published December 1, 2020. Accessed January 1, 2021.|
|Conference paper or proceedings||Presenter AA. Title of paper or presentation. Paper or Poster presented at: Conference Title; Month Day, Year; Location. URL. Accessed date.||Johnson S. Nomophia: Attachment and Anxiety in Relation to Mobile Phone Usage. Paper presented at: Conference of new Psychological conditions; December 1, 2020; Albany, New York. http://AmericanPsychology.com/NewConditions-Nomophobia-SJohnsonsResearchonMobilePhoneAttatchment. Accessed January 1, 2021.|
|Thesis or dissertation||Author AA. Title of Work. [dissertation or master’s thesis]. Location: Institution; Year:Page-Page.||Jones JJ. Disconnect to Reconnect: The benefits of minimizing technology use. [PhD thesis]. Albany, New York: Institute of Psychology; 2020:20-40|
|Course lecture or lecture notes||Professor AA. Title of Lecture. [class lecture or class lecture notes]. Location: Institution; Date.||Sullivan SS. The impact of excessive technological usage. Psychology in Relation to Technology 101. Albany, New York: Institution of Psychology; January 1, 2021.|
|Presentation||Author or Presenter AA. Title of presentation. Presented at: Event; Month Day, Year; Location. URL. Accessed date.||Jones JJ. Mobile Phone usage and impact on Psychological health. Presented at: Psychology in Relation to Technology 101; December 1, 2020; Albany, New York. http://AlbanyUniversityofPshychology.com/ClassPresentations-JJJones-MobilePhoneUsageandImpactonMentalHealth. Accessed January 1, 2021.|
Today, many of your sources will be digital. Here are some examples of how to do website references in the AMA citation style:
(Samples are fictionalised)
|Website with author||Author AA. Webpage title. Name of Website. URL. Published or Updated date. Accessed date.||Jenkins SS. How mobile phones affect our mental health. Psychology and Technology. http://PsychologyandTechnology.com/SSJenkins-Howmobilephonesaffectourmentalhealth. Published December 1, 2020. Accessed January 1, 2021.|
|Website with organisation||Webpage title. Name of Website or Organisation. URL. Published or Updated date. Accessed date.||How mobile phones are causing anxiety in today’s youth. Organisation of Mental Health and Technology. http://PsychologyandTechnology.com/OrganisationofMentalHealthandTechnology-Howmobilephonesarecausinganxietyintodaysyouth. Published December 1, 2020. Accessed January 1, 2021.|
|Website without author or organisation||Webpage title. Name of Website. URL. Published or Updated date. Accessed date.||Why you should put your phone down. Psychology and Technology. http://PsychologyandTechnology.com/whyyoushouldputyourphonedown. Published December 1, 2020. Accessed January 1, 2021.|
Referencing Journals & Other Periodicals
Finally, for periodicals, referencing can be trickier, as you need to include a lot more information.
Here’s how to reference journals and other periodicals in the AMA citation format:
(Samples are fictionalised)
|One to six authors||Author AA, Author BB, Author CC. Title of article. Abbreviated Journal Title. Year;Volume(Issue):Page-Page.||Smith J, Johnson S, Sanders JS, Stevenson SJ. A breakdown of PTSD: Managing and caring for veterans. J PTSD. 2020;10(5):15-30.|
|Seven or more authors||Author AA, Author BB, Author CC, et al. Title of article. Abbreviated Journal Title. Year;Volume (Issue):Page-Page.||Smith J, Johnson S, Sanders JS, et al. A breakdown of PTSD: Managing and caring for veterans. J PTSD. 2020;10(5):15-30.|
|Electronic Journal Article||Author AA. Title of article. Abbreviated Journal Title. Year;Volume(Issue):Page-Page. URL. Published or Last updated date. Accessed date.||Sullivan SS. Common childhood traumas. J PTSD. 2020;10(4):4-12. http://PsycologicalJournals.com/JournalofTraumaticStress-Commonchildhoodtraumas. Published December 1, 2020. Accessed January 1, 2021.|
|Electronic Journal Article: DOI||Author AA, Author BB. Title of article. Abbreviated Journal Title. Year;Volume(Issue):Page-Page. doi:xx.xxxx/xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.||Jones JJ, Jenkins SS. Symptoms of traumatic stress. J PTSD. 2020;10(6):16-20. doi:13.5790/21436587109135|
|Newspaper or Magazine Article||Author AA. Title of article. Title of Magazine or Newspaper. Month Day, Year:Page-Page.||Jameson JS. Mobile phone attachment. Psychology Now. December 1, 2020:5-10|
|Electronic Newspaper or Magazine Article||Author AA. Title of Article. Title of Magazine or Newspaper. Month Day, Year:Page-Page. URL. Published date or Last updated date. Accessed date||Jameson JS. Mobile phone attachment. Psychology Now. December 1, 2020:5-10. http://PsychologyNowMagazine.com/Mobilephoneattatchment. Published December 1, 2020. Accessed January 1, 2021.|
- Journal titles are written in the NLM title abbreviation format. For example, if you’re using the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, it will be written down as “J Am Acad Nurse Pract”. To check for abbreviated titles, you can use the NLM catalogue.
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Brittany is a Content Marketing Strategist at Flowcite, and an outstanding academic writing expert. She holds a first-class Honours degree in Literae Humaniores from the University of Oxford and has been certified in Digital Marketing Analytics by the MIT Sloan School of Management.