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How to cite using AMA in the health sciences

This guide covers the basics of the American Medical Association's (AMA) citation style.


The AMA Manual of Style has very specific formatting requirements. Always check your work, and always consult the AMA Manual of Style for additional clarification on formatting details such as:

  • Punctuation: Where is punctuation needed?
  • SpellingAlways use the spelling and/& symbols used by the original source.
  • Spacing: What text does/doesn’t require spacing?
  • Capitalization/italics: What terms do/don’t need to be capitalized/italicized?
    • TIP!   Capitalize only:
      • The first letter of the first word,
      • Proper names,
      • Names of clinical trials or study groups
      • Abbreviations that are ordinarily capitalized (eg, DNA, EKG)

Journal title abbreviations

  • Journal name must be abbreviated and italicized
    •  Use the NLM Catalog to determine the appropriate abbreviation  
      • e.g., If you search for the ‘International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy’, you will discover that the official abbreviation is: Int J Clin Pharm.
  • Only put a period at the end of the last abbreviated word
  • Do not make up an abbreviation
    • Journal abbreviations are based on an international standard (ISO 4) and it is easy to see when one is incorrect
  • If the journal you are citing is not in the NLM Catalog you can:

Author names

  • List author names in the order they appear in your work
  • Use the author’s last name followed by their initial(s)
    • Maher MP
  • Never use 'and' between author names
  • Periods do not follow initials except for the last name listed
    • Maher MP, Azad CR, Watari L, Nguyen PC.
  • If you have 6 authors or less, list all of them
    • Maher MP, Azad CR, Watari L, Nguyen PC, Fast MV, Poppy SC.
  • If you have more than 6 authors, list the first 3, followed by 'et al'
    • Penner HL, Simmons AF, Fischer M, et al.

In-text citation tips

  • When citing use superscript numbers in numerical order based on when they are first used. This will mean that the first in-text citation will alway start at 1
  • If you mention an author in text, only include the author’s last name
    • e.g., Strand et al. noted that pharmacists can play a key role in point of care testing and vaccinations for COVID-19.4
  • When citing a previously cited source, reuse the same superscript number
    • Tip! Citation managers such as Zotero and Mendeley can be very helpful when using a numbered citation style like AMA as it is very easy to make mistakes if you are numbering citations manually
  • A passage can contain more than one citation, e.g. "Patients with various kinds of glaucoma have been found to have normal aqueous humor production.42-43
  • Superscript citations are placed outside periods and commas and inside colons and semicolons

Reference list tips

  • Reference lists must be left justified (flush left) as in the example reference list
  • Use regular numbering for the items in your reference list (not superscripts)
  • Order of items must match the order of the items as they appear in your writing
  • Single space your reference list. Do not add additional spaces between items