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AMA Style: The Basics for Pharmacy Writing: Formatting Tips


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

  • Punctuation! Where is punctuation needed?
  • Spelling! Always use the spelling and/& symbols used by the original source.
  • Capitalization/italics! What terms do/don’t need to be capitalized/italicized?
  • Spacing! What text does/doesn’t require spacing?

Journal Title Abbreviations

  • Journal name must be abbreviated and italicized. Use the NLM Catalog to determine the appropriate abbreviation  
    • Example
      If you search for the ‘International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy’, you will discover that the official abbreviation is: I
      nt J Clin Pharm.
  • Do not put periods at the end of each abbreviated word (only do so for the last word).
  • Do not make up an abbreviation!
  • If you cannot find a journal abbreviation in the NLM Catalog, you can try Web of Science's Journal Title Abbreviations or  Ulrich's Global Serials Directory.


Author Names

  • List author names in the order they appear in the item
  • Use the author’s last name followed by their initial(s)
    • Example
      Fischer M
  • Never use 'and' between author names
  • Notice that periods do not follow initials (except for the very last name listed)
  • If you have 6 authors or less, list all of them
    • Example
      Jones J, Row JP, Byrd R, Smith L, Poe EA, Atkins E
  • If you have more than 6 authors, list the first 3, followed by 'et al'
    • Example
      Fischer M, Stedman MS, Lee J, et al

In-Text Citation Tips

  • Use superscript numbers in numerical order! This means that the first in-text citation in your writing will start at 1
  • If you mention an author in text, only include the author’s last name
  • When citing a previously cited source, reuse the same superscript number.  You can also include the specific page number you are making reference to (this is optional, but can be helpful for your reader).  Here is an example:  Atwater13 reported that the alcohol consumption of college students decreased in their senior year which supported Abbott's3(p33) and Orsborn's14 earlier findings.
  • 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

Reference List Tips

  • 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


Questions about the AMA Manual of Style? 

Contact your pharmacy liaison librarian, Caitlin Carter, x21313, PHR 4009.