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University Writing Center

RES 10: AMA Quick Guide

Dynamic PDF: AMA Quick Guide

What is AMA style?

“AMA” is the official writing and citation style for medical and scientific researchers as recognized by the American Medical Association. It is used to ensure the production of well-organized, clear, and professional documents within the medical research field.

Why do citations matter?

Whenever you refer to someone’s words or ideas, whether you are paraphrasing, summarizing, or quoting, you have a responsibility to your readers to cite your source. If you do not cite your source’s words or information, you are plagiarizing. Whether intentional or accidental, plagiarism has consequences (see MTSU’s definition of plagiarism). Understanding your citation style can go a long way toward helping you write responsibly and ethically.

What are in-text citations?

This type of citation is used when writers refer to someone else’s idea(s) through paraphrasing, summarizing, and/or quoting.

In AMA, in-text citations are formatted using superscript numerically:

  • Use superscript Arabic numerals to cite your information
  • Numerals will go in order of reference used
  • The first reference used is written as 1 in the reference list
  • If you’re citing more than one reference for a given piece of information, separate the numbers with commas
  • If a reference is used more than once in a paper, use the same number to refer to that source throughout the paper.

Examples of in-text citations:

This drug is used to treat hepatitis.1

Storing latex at high heat may cause degradation, 2,3-5,7 but it is difficult to keep materials cool in a desert environment.

Can the author’s name be used to cite in the text?

You may include the author’s last name to cite in your text as long as it is followed by the corresponding superscript.

  • Smith 2 reports that there is a strong correlation between the strength of the immune system and the rate of growth of cancer cells.

If there are two authors, include both names.

  • Jones and Heinse 5 shared the results of their research.

For three or more authors, use the name of the first author followed by ‘et al’ and the corresponding superscript.

  • Hamilton et al 5 reported that temperatures between 50° Fahrenheit and 60° Fahrenheit have no effect on the growth of potatoes.

What is a “References” page?

The References page lists the sources used in-text in numerical order of appearance. The purpose of the References page is to provide a roadmap to your sources so that other scholars or researchers can find them. This means that, as a writer, you need to provide as much information as you can about where to find a source.

On an AMA References page:

  • The word “REFERENCES” should appear on the left margin in all caps.
  • Entries should be listed numerically by order of appearance within the text. Each citation should be concluded with a period.
  • Publication titles are put in italics while article and chapter titles are typed in usual font.
  • For online sources, include a URL or DOI and provide access dates if required by instructor or publisher.

Sample References page (journal, website, and book):


1. Serlachius A, Northam E, Frydenberg E, Cameron, F. Adapting a generic coping skills programme for adolescents with type 1 diabetes: a qualitative study. J Health Psychol. 2012;17(3):313-323.

1. Rainie L. The rise of the e-patient. Pew Research Center Internet and the American Life Project. October 7, 2009. Accessed January 11, 2012.

1. Riegelman RK, Kirkwood B. Public Health 101: Healthy People–Healthy Populations. 2nd ed. Jones & Bartlett Learning; 2015.

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