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AMA Style: The 7 Features of Great Medical Writing

AMA Style

What is AMA?

AMA is the style of medical professionals. Developed by the American Medical Association, this style was created specifically for medical professionals to promote peer crediting and uniformity in publication. The first edition was published in 1962 and was initially meant to be used by the close circle of professionals. The size of the manual has since grown through numerous updates to the document it is today.

The AMA style is the default for medical professionals, students and researchers. This manual covers an expansive region of subjects for authors and editors in medication and science. It determines the styles for composing and references in the AMA publications. It is additionally utilized, either in entire or part, by numerous clinical and scientific journals, in course readings, and in scholarly papers. The major difference between AMA and other styles is that AMA serves users whose needs are not the same as the alternative.

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Medical professionals are concerned with correctness and the justifiability of material. Therefore, the AMA manual comprises of perfect and clear styles for language, utilization of accentuation, upper casing, clinical lists, non-English words, and many more. It gives styles to composing terminologies including contractions, Greek letters, classification, and so forth. The style direct additionally underlines styles with respect to the right and favored composing design for units of measurements, study plans and insights, typography, a glossary of publishing terms, assets, and so forth.


 7 Features of AMA

  1. Formatting a paper implies utilizing legitimate references inside the content and list of sources, yet in addition, utilizing the elaborate issues spread out in the AMA Manual of Style to format the content. This incorporates such factors as utilizing headings and capitalizing them suitably, line dispersing, margins, text style issues, (for example, utilizing “two” or “2”, utilizing PM or p.m. or then again P.M.), placement of page numbers, preferred font and spacing for graphs, preferred size and shape for tables, and so forth.
  2. Abbreviations and such: Acronyms, abbreviations, and initialism are deterred from use, with the exception of notable and acknowledged units of estimation and some well-recognized terms.
  3. Whenever utilized, spell out at the first use, regardless of whether the abbreviation or initialism is notable. Try not to put periods between the letters of an abbreviation, truncation, or initialism. State names ought to consistently show up as complete names in the content of an original copy. Whenever remembered for references, utilize the two-letter shortened form.
  4. Numbers: Numerals (1, 2, 3, and so on) should be utilized in all composition, aside from when the number starts the sentence or title, common fractions, and number spelled out in citations or titles of works cited. One number might be spelled out if the sentence requires various numbers to be set close to one another. e.g., “If 15 11-year-olds had this reaction…” should be changed to “If fifteen 11-year-olds…”
  5. Time: To show a period of the day, use AM or PM in small capitals. Traditional 12-hour clock time is liked. Notwithstanding, a 24 hour or military time shows can likewise be utilized to pass on the exact timing when required, for example, when portraying drug measurement regimens.
  6. Dates: At the point when dates are given in the content, use numerals for day and year, and work out the month, e.g., March 4, 2000. If you are utilizing dates in a table, you may utilize numerals for the month (e.g., 3/4/2000).
  7. Estimations: Use SI norms for composing estimations. Numbers are constantly written in plain content; there is a space after the number and before the unit, and never a period after the unit (except if it closes a sentence). Do not include commas for longer numbers (e.g., 2700 km, not 2,700 km

General Rules of AMA Formatting

Again, AMA does not put too much importance into some elements that may not matter in medical academic papers. Usually, with things like margins, you would have to consult your instructor or borrow from other styles.

  1. Margins: One-inch margins are needed around the content. Leave the right margin unjustified (ragged). No columns!
  2. Line Spacing: Double-space the principle text (single space just inside the theoretical, notes, titles and headings, block statements, tables and figures, and references—everything except for the fundamental content)
  3. Font: Use Times New Roman, 12-point textual style
  4. Indents: Half-inch indents are standard (utilize the “tab” button) for new sections
  5. Page Numbers: Place page numbers in the upper right-hand corner all through (beginning with the cover sheet)
  6. Page Headers: Put the title of your document in the upper left-hand corner of the page
  7. Title Page: If your task requires a title page, on the main clear page of your document place the following:
          • Title of report
          • Your name
          • Your Instructor’s name
          • Course title
          • Due date


NOTE: If your task doesn’t need a cover sheet, in the right-hand corner of your first page, include:

          • Your name
          • Your teacher’s name
          • Course title
          • Due date

Citation in AMA

The Basic Stuff

AMA uses superscripts to link the citations to reference entries. This way, every citation is matched to its corresponding bibliographical entry. It is advisable to use roman numerals for the superscripts.

    • The manner in which a reference is composed relies upon the sort of source an understudy needs to refer to; knowing how to refer to a site doesn’t mean an understudy naturally realizes how to refer to a book. A bibliographical entry should have the writer’s last name and the first & middle initial without punctuation. In cases where there are multiple authors, use a comma to separate them. To illustrate:

Author 1, Author 2. Title. Journal Name. Year; Volume: Page

    • The title form does not apply and instead the sentence form is used for titles. For example, Gray’s anatomy. Contract and italicize titles of documents depending on the National Library of Medicine information base.
    • Separate each reference with periods into bibliographic classes. Invert the names of the scholars. Use initials for the first and middle names without putting periods between initials. It should be this way: Author Last name, FirstInitialMiddle Initial. For example, Jones, CZ
    • Add issue numbers in brackets after volume numbers (for journals)

Referencing in AMA

Citation Type


Journal article(print) Author(s). Title. Journal. Year; Volume (Issue): Page number(s).
Journal article(online)


1.       With URL



2.       With DOI



3.       Published ahead of print



Author(s). Title. Journal. Year; Volume (Issue): Page number(s). URL. Published date. Updated date. Accessed date.



Author(s). Title. Journal. Year; Volume (Issue): Page number(s). DOI.



Author(s). Title [published online ahead of print date]. Journal. Year; Volume (Issue): Page number(s). DOI.

Book chapter(print) Chapter author(s). Chapter title. In: Book author(s) or editor(s). Book title. Volume number and title. Edition number (do not indicate 1st edition). Place of publication: Publisher; Year: Page number(s).
Book chapter(online) Chapter author(s). Chapter title. In: Book author(s) or editor(s). Book title. Volume number and title. Edition number (do not indicate 1st edition). Place of publication: Publisher; Year: Page number(s). URL. Accessed date.
Book (print) Book author(s) or editor(s). Book title. Volume number and title. Edition number (do not indicate 1st edition). Place of publication: Publisher; Year.
Book (online) Book author(s) or editor(s). Book title. Volume number and title. Edition number (do not indicate 1st edition). Place of publication: Publisher; Year. URL. Accessed date.
Website Author(s). Title of item cited. Name of Web site.URL. Published date. Updated date. Accessed date.
Drug Information Database Author(s). Title of entry. In: Title of database [database online]. Place of publication: Publisher; Year. URL. Updated date. Accessed date.
Monograph Author(s). Monograph. In: Title of database [database online]. Place of publication: Publisher; Year. URL. Updated date. Accessed date.
Government/ Organization Reports (online) Author(s). Title. Place of publication: Name of issuing organization; Year. Page(s)/ publication/ series numbers. URL. Published date. Updated date. Accessed date.
Conference Presentations Author(s). Title. Poster/Paper presented at: Meeting name; Date(s); Location.
Conference Presentations(online) Author(s). Title. Poster/Paper presented at: Meeting name; Date(s); Location. URL. Accessed date.


Common Mistakes in AMA

Every medical writer has different strengths and weaknesses. If you are new to the field of medical communication, take an inventory of what you know and don’t know, especially with regard to grammar, punctuation, and usage. Mastery of these topics is a crucial first step toward becoming a successful medical writer.

  • Adding “‑ical” endings on adjectives. The 11th edition of the AMA Manual of Style makes it clear that “‑ic” alone designates the adjectival form. This is one of the most prominent additions to the new edition and one that you are bound to make by reflex.
  • Confusing language that may be ambiguous. When a misplaced modifier appears at the beginning of a sentence, it is a dangling modifier because it does not modify the first noun in the sentence. For example, Using a #5 blade, an incision is made in the abdomen. In this sentence, the opening clause does not modify the first noun (incision). One possible solution is to assign a subject to the modifier, as in Using a #5 blade, the surgeon made an incision in the abdomen.
  • Another example of confusing language is faulty comparisons. For example, the progression‑free survival in group 1 was greater than group 2. The writer intended to compare survival in group 1 to survival in group 2. But the sentence actually compares survival in group 1 with group 2 itself. So the writer must add words to allude to survival, like this: The progression‑free survival in group 1 was greater than that in group 2.
  • It is tempting to use more words than necessary as one seeks to be fully understood. However, medical writing can be complicated, but it should not be unnecessarily wordy. This error is common in a wide variety of forms. Redundancy abounds in writing in general and in medical writing specifically. Watch out for phrases such as “combine together,” “advance planning,” and “general consensus.”
  • While medical professionals are more concerned with sharing their subject matter, it is still imperative that grammatical rules be adhered to. With that in mind, agreement between a noun and its pronoun is a basic grammatical principle, but many factors can complicate the issue. One common error is disagreement between a pronoun and the noun when the latter is a company or client. For example, the pharmaceutical company has been successful in sharing information with their stakeholders.

To Cap Things off…

AMA may be designed for medical papers but one may still use it if it fits the requirements of their preferred style. It is not one of the common styles as some consider it too complex but it is common-adjacent. If you are looking to use this style, you should be careful with the minor traits that may affect the flow of your writing.

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