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The Ultimate AMA Formatting and Citation Guide

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John Milovich
John Milovich
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Former college customer turned freelance writer, shares insider insights on the essay industry.

If you dream to become a nurse or a doctor, you will have to go through Medical school, and one of the challenges awaiting you will be the AMA formatting style. Today we’ll cover the specifics of this particular style and offer an AMA paper sample to help you complete written assignments quickly and hassle-free. If you want to learn more about other academic citation styles, check out our previous article.

What Is AMA Format?

Biomedical professionals pioneered AMA writing style for medical papers. The AMA paper format has become the accepted standard for biomedical professionals crafting medical papers. Professionals in the biomedical field pioneered this particular writing style, and it has since garnered a reputation as the favored style for most international peer-reviewed journals specializing in Medicine.

However, it's not just medical professionals and researchers who use the AMA format paper; it is also extensively utilized in academia. Medical and nursing students, in particular, should try to familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of this style.

Many Medical schools and universities around the globe advocate for using the AMA paper format in their coursework and thesis works, reinforcing its status as an important tool in the arsenal of any budding medical professional or researcher. The intricacies of the AMA formatting style are twofold, and anyone aiming to write in this style must comprehend both aspects. The first aspect involves:

  • Formatting the entire document, including structuring the text;
  • creating headers;
  • footnotes;
  • even the specific AMA title page format.

The second facet is associated with formatting the reference list or bibliography at the end of the document. Both these elements are integral to the successful execution of an AMA format paper.

However, before proceeding, you must consult your professor or advisor on applying this style. In some instances, the AMA format may be required only for the text, while at other times, it might apply to both the text and the bibliography. Understanding these nuances will ensure your paper adheres to the strict standards set by the AMA and meets the expectations of your audience.

How to Write an AMA Style Paper?

We won’t go into the intricacies of writing medical research papers or articles for scientific journals. There are plenty of articles on our blog about choosing an essay topic, using online libraries or managing your time. Today we’ll cover the steps you need to take to turn a basic text into a perfectly formatted AMA paper.

General Formatting Rules

When you've completed the composition of your paper and are transitioning to the final formatting stage in preparation for its submission, there are several general guidelines you should follow, as outlined by the AMA Formatting Guide. Adhering to these formatting rules ensures that your works, presumably AMA style papers, present a professional appearance consistent with established academic standards. After you have finished the paper, follow these guidelines to format it according to AMA Formating Guide:

  • Left align the text and make it double-spaced.
  • Use 12 pt. font. Serif fonts, like Times New Roman, are preferable for text, while non-serif fonts, like Arial, are used for tables. There are no exact font guidelines, so you should consult your professor.
  • Apply 1-inch margins on all sides of the page.
  • Include a running header with a short page title (left aligned) and a page number (right aligned).

Lastly, don't forget to format your AMA reference list according to the guide, ensuring all your sources are correctly and consistently cited. These elements collectively contribute to a professionally formatted and organized paper.

AMA Paper Structure Requirements

There are four major parts to any AMA paper:

  • Title Page
  • Abstract, which can be structured or unstructured
  • Text, including introduction, methods description, research results, and discussion
  • References

AMA Title Page

American Medical Association does not offer a title page template. According to AMA guidelines, the title page should provide:

  • Title of the Paper
  • Authors’ Names
  • Degrees, if any, above Bachelors’
  • Contact E-mail Addresses
  • Institutional Affiliation
  • Word Count excluding title page, abstract, tables, figures and a list of references.

AMA Paper’s Abstract

An abstract should summarize the critical aspects of the research paper and inform potential readers of the findings. Therefore, a summary should include the aim of the study and background information, the experimental methods used, primary research results and significant conclusions derived.

An abstract is an integral research paper component, offering a content summary. A structured abstract, typically used for clinical or systematic reviews and original data reports, ranges between 250 to 300 words in length. The structure of such an abstract often follows certain standard headings; these can vary based on the nature of the report or study. For instance, a well-structured abstract in a sample AMA paper provides the reader with a clear, concise overview of the report's key findings and objectives.

On the other hand, unstructured abstracts, usually up to 150 words long, are suitable for other medical research papers. Unlike structured abstracts, these do not necessarily follow a set format or sequence of headings but present a condensed overview of the research. Whether using the AMA essay format or preparing a sample AMA paper, an unstructured abstract should deliver a brief yet comprehensive summary of your study.

Regardless of the abstract type, it should conclude with a list of 3 to 10 keywords. These keywords, representing your paper's critical concepts or themes, play a vital role in helping other researchers or readers locate your work in databases or online searches. It helps to increase the visibility and reach of your research, ensuring that it can contribute to ongoing dialogues within your field.

AMA In-Text Citation

In an AMA format sample paper, all subsequent references after the first are noted using Arabic numerals in a superscript format. These references serve as direct links to your sources, providing an easy way for readers to trace your research process. These can be grouped together if you need to cite multiple sources simultaneously.

This group of references can be separated using a comma, or if the sources are consecutive, they can be connected using a hyphen. While citing sources, including page numbers, can provide added clarity for your readers. In the AMA format, if you need to include a page number for a specific quote or data point, you do so using parentheses immediately after the citation number. Quotes can be introduced in two ways:

  1. Run-on quotes are up to 4 lines long and can be presented within the body of text surrounded by quotation marks.
  2. Block quotes are longer than four lines of text and should be separated from the body of writing by blank lines and a ½ inch block indent. There are no quotation marks around the block quote.

If any changes to the quote are necessary, they are taken into square brackets, even if you only change the capitalization of the first letter. Use italics to emphasize certain words or ideas and add a note [italics added] at the end of the sentence.

The positioning of superscript citations is also crucial. The citation numbers typically appear before colons and semicolons in AMA format sample papers. However, they are placed after periods and commas. Such precise placement enhances readability and comprehension, providing clear navigational cues to your readers as they delve into your research.

How to Create an AMA Bibliography?

Crafting an accurate bibliography, or as it is referred to in the AMA style, the 'Reference List,' is a pivotal step when formatting a paper according to the AMA abstract format. The Reference List comprehensively records all sources consulted and cited in your paper. It allows readers to trace the intellectual journey you embarked on during your research and attests to your work's scholarly rigor.

Unlike many other referencing styles, the AMA format does not organize the sources alphabetically. Instead, sources are arranged in numerical order, reflecting the sequence in which they have been cited in the paper. This method of organization helps readers easily cross-reference citations within the body of the text with the corresponding detailed source information in the Reference List.

The formatting of the individual references within the list is also subject to certain AMA-specific rules. Each reference entry should be single-spaced, clearly distinguishing between different source entries. Subsequent lines of each reference should be indented. This indentation provides a visual cue, further distinguishing between separate entries and enhancing the readability of your Reference List.

Proper adherence to the AMA abstract format, including the correct assembly of the Reference List, not only contributes to the professional appearance of your paper but also upholds the principles of academic integrity and rigorous scholarship.

General Rules of AMA CItation

The information necessary for an AMA style bibliography includes:

  • Author’s last name
  • Author’s first and middle name initials
  • Title of the article (Sentence case)
  • Abbreviated journal title (Title case)
  • Year of publication
  • Issue number
  • Inclusive pages

Unlike other citation styles, AMA format requires the use of authors’ last name and initials without punctuation. Commas are used to separate different authors:

Watson J, Bing CM, Greene RL

Medical journal titles aren't used in their full form. To find the correct way to abbreviate the title, consult the National Library of Medicine database. Italicize the journal titles.

Periods divide reference data into bibliographic groups, whose elements can be separated by:

  • A comma to list a set of closely related bibliographic elements (authors’ names);
  • A semicolon to divide the different bibliographic elements;
  • A colon after the connective phrase, between the paper’s title and subtitle, or before the publisher's name.

AMA Formatting Examples

Check out the following examples of proper AMA formatting:

  • Article with up to 6 authors

Barry JM. The site of origin of the 1918 influenza pandemic and its public health implications [Commentary]. J Translational Med.January 20, 2004;2(3):1-4.

  • Article with over six authors

McGlynn EA, M.Asch S, Adams J, et al. The quality of health care delivered to adults in the United States. N Engl J Med. June 26, 2003; 348(26):2635-2645

  • Book

Anderson KM. Enhancing Resilience in Survivors of Family Violence. New York, NY: Springer; 2010.

  • Part of a book

Sisk JE. Cardiac catheterization. In: Krapp K, ed. The Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing & Allied Health. Detroit, MI: Gale Group; 2002:407-412.

  • Website

U.S. National Library of Medicine. Back Pain. MedlinePlus. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/backpain.html. Accessed October 31, 2010.

How to Save Time on AMA Format References?

After the paper is complete, formatting the reference list can take you days, if you have used more than a dozen sources. To save time and make your life easier, use specialized software and online services instead of formatting the list manually. These three services use AMA template and can take care of your reference list in mere minutes:

  1. Citethisforme is a Chegg-powered online tool that generates references in hundreds of citations styles, including AMA. You can cite books, journals, websites, dissertations and more with a couple of mouse clicks. There are manual and automatic modes that ensure you mention the right source every time. Helpful pointers on using sources might help you reevaluate and improve your writing.
  2. Bibme is another Chegg service for AMA format citation generation. The website supports numerous styles and creates appropriately formatted reference lists in minutes. Bibme offers other services to improve your writing, including plagiarism check, grammar and style suggestions.
  3. Citationmachine can help you format the reference list for journal publication or to your professor's exact specification. There are several options for AMA formatting, including “no URL” and “no et al.” Automatic mode generates citations based on the article title search, and you can use manual mode in case the search does not return results.

Sometimes even an automatic reference generation tools can’t help you finish the paper on time. When failing the class is not an option, check out our top ranking services. One them will surely help you complete the research before the submission deadline. And if your paper is ready, you can always improve it by using professional proofreading or editing services.


The AMA citation style, or American Medical Association citation style, is a set of guidelines for citing sources in medical and scientific research papers. It is essential for academic writing in the medical and healthcare fields because it provides a standardized way to cite sources, ensuring accuracy, consistency, and credibility of research.

The key elements of AMA citation style include citing sources within the text using superscript numbers, creating a reference list in numerical order at the end of the document, and following specific formatting rules for various types of sources. AMA style differs from other citation styles in its emphasis on numerical superscripts for in-text citations and its unique reference list formatting.

Students and researchers can effectively use the AMA formatting and citation guide by carefully studying its rules and guidelines. They should pay attention to formatting details, citation formats for different source types (e.g., books, journal articles, websites), and proper placement of superscript numbers within the text. Additionally, using citation management software can simplify the proces