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Using the AMA Essay Format

AMA format is based upon the American Medical Association Manual of Style and is used specifically for written works of research that are to be published in medical journals or submitted to professors in medical schools that require this format. 

General Appearance for the AMA essay format

The text itself is double-spaced, with one-inch margins all around, and an unjustified right margin.  Beyond that, there are not requirements for title pages or pagination.  Since most of the AMA essay format works will appear in medical journals, the typical title page, etc. is not necessary.  If the work is submitted to a professor, that professor will provide title page and pagination requirements.  Block paragraphing is the most acceptable, although specific journals and/or professors may indicate otherwise.

Font and size are usually Times New roman, 12 point, although graphs, diagrams and charts are often in a different font, usually Arial.

AMA Format Bibliography

This is the area in which the AMA format differs significantly from research works in all other fields. 

In-Text Referencing 

Rather than delineate the author and work within the text of the AMA format paper, all referencing, whether that is to information/data that has been paraphrased or quoted directly, the author simply places superscript numbers following the portion to be referenced.  The author may state the reference source within the text of the work (e.g., According to Glover, incidents of elevated blood pressure were minimal, only one per thousand subjects.1) The “1” that appears at the end of this reference is all that is needed to refer to a source, because all sources will be listed at the end by number.  Thus “1” will be the first source listed at the end, and full bibliographical information will be there included.

The Reference Listing at the End of the Document

All citations within the text have been given a number.  The AMA format bibliography requires that the reference listing at the end be numerical, each number corresponding to the number given that reference in the text.  Thus, references are not alphabetical as is the case in all other formats.  Examples of various types of references are as follows.  Note, they are to be single spaced, with double spaces between references.


1. Moreland, Charles, Medical Mysteries of the 20th Century, Boston, MA: Century; 2004.

Note:  If there are between two and six authors, each author is listed, last name first.  If there are more than 6 authors, the first 6 are listed followed by “et al.”


2. Seifried, Ryan, ed. Managed Care for the Twenty-First Century, St. Louis, MO: Corrigan Academic Publishing; 2013.


3. World Health Organization. Statistical Analysis of the Efficacy of Malaria Treatment in West African Nations. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2009.


4. Schwartz, H.G. Water sanitation: a study in one West African village. In:  Stanbury H, ed.  Treatment of Malaria in West Africa.  5th ed.  New York, NY:  Alfred Knopf; 2009:326-413.

Note:  Sentence style capitalization is the accepted style for AMA format bibliography.

JOURNAL CITATIONS:  for print journal articles, be certain to us sentence-style capitalization and do not put quotation marks around the article title.  Italicize the name of the journal and provide volume and edition numbers, as well as date and, of course page numbers.  If no volume and issue numbers are provided, use the publication date.

5. Regnier, Terrance, Genetic mutations in 3rd generation rats exposed to varied doses of radiation. Journal of Neurology. 2005;41(8):742-756.

Note:  If the journal article is from an Internet source, provide all of the above information followed by the website URL and date of access.


For additional online citations, consult the AMA essay format style guide.  Generally, they follow the same format for the source genre, followed by the URL and date of access.

The AMA essay format is a specialized style for medical students and professionals.  It should be noted, moreover, that individual journals may have different specifications, and it wise to be certain that those specifications are met prior to any submission.

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