AMA Format Complete Guidelines

Are you a college student looking to understand the AMA format? Learn the best way to implement the AMA citation style.

The AMA format guidelines guide academic writers and researchers in the health, medicine, and life sciences. Most science-based articles have specific guidelines based on the school or supervisor; however, the AMA format is a general rule that must be followed. 

The AMA formatting style uses numerical in-text citations to refer readers to the reference list. Hence, the reference list is always sequential in the paper's citation order. Simply put, references are arranged as they are cited in the paper. 

The AMA format differs from other formatting styles because it recommends specific terminology in the AMA Manual. For example, according to the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and National Library of Medicine (NLM), the journals cited in a paper should be abbreviated.

The AMA Manual of Style does not provide specific instructions for formatting your paper. Instead, refer to your instructor for guidance on your title page, spacing, page numbers, and other formatting questions. Here are other things to note when using the AMA format. 

  • Use a 10 or 12-point font. While there is no specific typeface for writing, ensure that you use easy-to-read fonts like Times New Roman, Arial, or any Serif typeface. 
  • Use a one-inch margin on all sides of the paper, with single-spaced lines, unless the paper supervisor states otherwise. 
  • Page numbering can either be at the top or bottom of the page. 
  • Ensure that you are consistent with formatting, like font size, page numbering, citations, or paragraphing. 
  • If you have any further questions or encounter formatting difficulties, you can always seek professional help to format your paper. 

This article will guide the use of the AMA-style format. In this article, you will understand the best way to navigate the challenges of writing a medical article and meet the requirements of your college, medical editors, publishers, and journals.

Please note that the guidelines provided in this article depend on the preferences and requirements of the course supervisor. Therefore, check the rubric, instructor, and project requirements before deciding.

AMA Format in Google Docs 

In-text citations in AMA format style in Google Docs are pretty simple. To get started, apply the following steps: Highlight the text, click on the formatting option on the menu, and click on the text. You get different options; choose the superscript options. 

If you cannot find the superscript option, you can highlight the number and reduce the font size. For example, if your paper is in a 12-point font, you can reduce the superscript font to 8 or 9. 

If you are wondering how to do AMA format, you must learn to pay attention to even the tiniest details in a source journal. First, find the best AMA guidelines for your paper, and follow them religiously. 

Periods separate bibliography groups in Google Docs, such as author, article title, book name, journal name, year, volume, or edition number of the book or journal, publisher's name, and DOI or URL (which should not be followed by a period). 

Begin the reference with the author’s last name, then the initials of the first and middle names, without a period, command, or space, but end with a period. 

Example: Rhodes CY. Article title. Journal name. 2021; 5 (2):10-11

If the authors are more than two, use a comma to separate the names, and do not use "and" or "&." 

E.g., Rhodes CY, Yancy GB, Caroll F. Article title. Journal name. 2019; 5 (2):10-11

If a committee or association prepares the material, list the committee after the authors and semicolons.

E.g., Caroline R, Yancy CY, et al.; MCW Committee. Article title. Journal name. 2020; 5 (2): 16-24. 

Names of journals are abbreviated following the National Library of Medicine database

There are other formatting methods, especially in print journals. Citations for print journals must include the author's last name with the first and middle initials. If there is no author, the article title should be listed first. 

Next, list the title of the article and subtitle, when applicable. Then list the journal's abbreviated name, the year with a semicolon and no space, the volume number with no space, and the issue number (in parentheses, with no space; colon). Also, list the page number. 

e.g., Maverick CJ. Title of article. Journal Name. 2022;3(0022134)

AMA Header and Title 

If you are wondering how to write an AMA paper, you need to understand the AMA formatting rules, the AMA writing format, and their dos and don’ts. That being said, the title page is very critical in every essay. 

An AMA paper's title page should include keywords and an abstract in the upper half of the page; it must be double-spaced and centralized. Here is a breakdown of the elements of the title page of an AMA format

Title: The goal of a title in every paper is to summarize the main idea of the paper. The title must not be italicized, emboldened, or underlined. 

Author information: Include your first name, middle initial (s), and last name. All titles and degrees must be omitted. 

Abstract: The abstract of your paper should include the study's objective, background, the main context of the research, the design method, and the study's conclusions. 

Keywords: Include the keywords of your paper at the end of your abstract.

The content of the title page should not be emboldened, italicized, or in a different font from the main font of the essay. 


Effects of Sleep Therapy on Recovery Time in Domestic Abuse Patients 

John C. Yancy

University of Nevada, Reno

Works Cited Page 

AMA format paper uses numerical superscript format. Ensure that you number the citations as they are arranged in the paper. Superscript numbers are always placed after periods, commas, or quotations, while they are placed before colons and semicolons. 

There are other AMA format requirements you must follow when writing your paper: 

If you cite several studies, ensure that you separate the superscripts with commas. Then, always use a dash to show a sequence when citing sequential studies. Finally, use the original number in a superscript if you cite a source mentioned earlier in the paper. 

Here is an example of works cited page in an AMA format paper;

Finding the most effective procedure for breast cancer is a primary goal for scientists.  1,2 Some drug classes appear to be more promising than others. For example, National Cancer Research Center evaluated different cancer diagnosis processes. On this note, several drugs have been studied by other scientists, including Andrew Zeelonski. 

Reference list:

1. 1. Cancer Investigation Funding. National Cancer Research Center. Publication date unavailable. 2nd edition June 6, 2011. Accessed July 3, 2012.

2. Andrew D, Zeelonski CA. Ultimate strategies for treating metastatic breast cancer with the scientifically approved procedure. Gene Manco. 2012;23 (Suppl 2):vi32-vi16.

AMA Style Citations

Whenever you quote source materials or journals, you must cite where the information came from. AMA format uses numbers as superscripts to refer to citations on the reference page. You must quote your source material properly, whether it is a college AMA format paper or a Ph.D. paper. 

AMA-style citations use numerals outside commas and periods. Here are a few AMA format examples:

  • A good deal of survey on internet communication also suggests that social media affect how people communicate.5
  • The concept of psychopathy was first officially documented by Hervey Cleckley,6, who recorded a subsection of his patients that displayed a dire lack of morality.

AMA Headings and Subheadings 

The AMA format style uses headings to establish a hierarchy of ideas in the papers by separating each section into different levels. Short papers, usually less than five pages long, should only have headings if required by the paper.

  • Level 1 headings should either be left justified or centered on the line above the text. The heading may also be bold or not. 
  • Level 2 headings should be left justified above the text or at the beginning of the text. It can also be emboldened or italicized. 
  • Level 3 subheadings should be left justified at the beginning of the text or above the text. It can also be emboldened or italicized. 

Here are a few AMA guidelines on how to write AMA paper headings:

  • Always begin with Level 1 headings before using other headings or subheading levels. That is, only move from one level heading to another if the main heading has at least two subheadings.
  • Short papers may have only Level 1 headings or have two or more Level 2 headings under the Level 1 heading. 
  • There should be more space for a Level 1 heading than for other heading levels. 

Table and Figures 

Tables and figures in an AMA-format paper should be numbered consecutively. Each table in the paper is labeled Table 1, Table 2, and Table 3; ensure that you also attach a brief description of each table and the source of the tale. 

Citations should be indicated with a superscript. Check that the citations in the list are in numerical order. For example, Table 1. New Ray Journal. Page 3. Tables may contain footnotes to convey the idea of the data. However, always represent footnotes with superscript lowercase letters in alphabetical order. You can also list footnotes below the table. 

Tables and figures are essential elements in the AMA format because they help researchers present data properly. A table is used to arrange data in a tabular form, while a figure is used to illustrate the data. Figures can either be graphs, diagrams, or charts. 

All tables must be organized in AMA formatting, whether a graph, chart, or numerical data; the essence of tables is to provide visual representations of your study paper. Most tables are divided into sections, which organize the paper body into sections. 

Headings and subheadings show table sections to keep your work organized and serve as descriptions of the content. However, the AMA format does not require specific sections. You can ask your supervisors questions on particular guidelines to keep your paper organized.

Tables and figures show relationships between data and information. An adequately arranged table provides readers with essential and factual data. Tables and figures take up less space than text. When information is presented in tables, only key details, precise information, and values are mentioned. 

You can use original figures instead of already published figures in your paper. However, the source should be cited with a citation number for easy reference whenever you use a previously published illustration, chart, or figure. Footnotes in tables and figures are used in two circumstances: 

  • Descriptive footnotes contain information about the table, sections of the table, or a table entry. The placement of the items in the table determines the order of the footnote. Then they are shown with superscript lowercase letters in alphabetical order (A-Z). A table can have more than one footnote. 
  • References in a table should be listed according to how it was listed in the texts. There are certain exceptions; it is appropriate for a reference to be cited in a table and not in the text. But all references must be listed on the reference page, whether a table or text.

Whenever you see a footnote, follow these rules:

  • Adapted from, which shows that you are encouraged to create your tables instead of copying them as they appear in the source. 
  • Reproduced with permission from, using a table without permission is frowned upon by college supervisors and might attract penalties. 
  • Data derived, this type of citation works for calculations or statistics. 
  • When the reference number and footnote letter follow the data within a table, ensure that you set the reference number first, followed by the footnote letter. 

Essential notes for figures in AMA Formatting 

  • "Figure 1" must be in bold text followed by a period. The descriptive title/text must be plain and not italicized.
  • You must include a legend if your figure/graph contains more than one variable. And the legend should be surrounded by a box and does not have to have the ‘legend’ label.
  • Do not add gridlines to the figure/graph. Ensure that you pay attention to the text on the vertical axis. Instead, include a box around the entire figure, including the title and legend. Add a line beneath "Figure 1." descriptive title/text.
  • The independent variable is positioned on the vertical axis (x-axis), and the dependent variable stays on the horizontal axis (y-axis).  The title of the dependent variable must be followed by (units)
  • Figures, tables, and graphs need to be numbered independently in consecutive order, e.g., Table 1, Figure 1, not Table 1, Figure 2.

Important things to note when using tables in AMA format

  • Tables arrange data in columns and rows. "Table + number," e.g., "Table 1." must be in bold text, followed by a period
  • The descriptive title/text should not be italicized but written in plain text. Table + number, descriptive title/text must always be at the top.
  • Row heads must be written plainly, without italics. A row heading's first word needs to be capitalized. Bold text is required for column heads.
  • Do not create your table using the "tab" and "space" buttons.  Create your table (s) using the "Insert" "Table" function in MS Word/Google Docs
  • You can use "footnotes" to add explanatory information to your tables.
  • Superscript lowercase letters in alphabetical sequence are used to denote footnotes.
  • Check the table in the text before it appears to ensure it is close to the text where it occurs without going over the page.

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