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How to cite using AMA in the Health Sciences: Visual Presentation of Data

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

Visual Presentation of Data

The 'visual presentation of data' includes information such as: tables, figures, graphs, clinical imaging, photographs, illustrations, and maps. 

In Chapter 4 of the AMA Manual, you will find information on:

  • How to format tables, figures, line graphs, survival plots, scatterplots, bar graphs, pie charts, diagrams, etc., with examples!

Tables/Figures/Graphs, etc., from other sources:

  • It is best practice to contact the creator or copyright holder of any table, figure, graph, photograph, illustration, etc., for permission to use it before you incorporate it into your work.  Even after obtaining permission, you must still properly cite the source.
  • This is especially true once you leave University.  You may end up presenting at a conference, or publishing a research article, and any tables, graphs, figures, images, etc. you wish to use or reprint from other sources must be properly cited and permission MUST be sought from the copyright holder(s).


AMA Line Graph

 Important notes:

  • "Figure 1" must be in bold text and followed by a period
  • Descriptive title/text must be in plain text - not italicized
  • "Figure 1" and the descriptive title/text is listed at the top of the figure.
  • If your figure/graph contains more than 1 variable, you must include a legend
  • The legend should be surrounded by a box
  • The legend does not have to be labeled "legend."
  • The dependent variable belongs on the vertical axis (y-axis) and the independent variable belongs on the horizontal axis (x-axis).  The title of the variable should be followed by (units)
  • Note the text direction on the vertical axis (y-axis)
  • Do not add gridlines to the figure/graph
  • Include a box around the entire figure, including the title and legend
  • Include a thin line under "Figure 1." and the descriptive title/text.
  • Figures/tables/graphs need to be numbered in consecutive order
  • Figures/tables/graphs should be numbered independently - e.g. Table 1, Figure 1 not Table 1, Figure 2
  • Make reference to the figure/table/graph in the text before it appears and ensure that it is close to the text where it appears, without going over the page


Section 4.1 of AMA Manual provide instructions, along with numerous examples, on formatting tables using the AMA Style

AMA Table Example

Important tips to remember:

  • Tables arrange data in columns and rows
  • "Table + number", e.g. "Table 1." must be in bold text, followed by a period
  • Descriptive title/text must be in plain text - not italicized
  • Table + number, descriptive title/text must always be found at the top of the table
  • Column headings must be in bold text
  • Row headings must be in plain text - not italicized
  • The first word of a row heading should be capitalized
  • Do not use vertical lines to separate the columns; horizontal lines to separate rows are okay
  • You can use "footnotes" to add additional explanatory information to your table 
  • You can use "footnotes" to cite data used in your table from other sources
  • Footnotes are indicated by superscript lowercase letters in alphabetical order
  • A box should surround the entire table, including table + number and descriptive title/text
  • Tables need to be numbered in consecutive order
  • Make reference to the table in the text before it appears and ensure that it is close to the text where it appears, without going over the page
  • Do not try to create your table by using the "tab" and "space" buttons on your keyboard.  Create your table(s) using the "Insert," "Table" function in MS Word.

The content and design of this page was copied and adapted from the guide "AMA Style: the Basics for Pharmacy Writing" written and developed by Caitlin Carter, University of Waterloo Library.