AMA Citations

What to Include in the Reference List

The Reference List is your list of accessible resources that were used while writing your paper or article.  As you would expect, it appears at the end of your paper.  In this case, "accessible" refers to items that are retrievable by others such as  published articles or books, websites, conference presentations, abstracts, theses, official reports, legal cases, video/audio files, among others.  

The AMA likes a numbered reference list.  Use consecutive Arabic numerals - that's 1234 - not Roman numerals or any other numbering scheme.  You should number your references in the order in which their information appears for the first time in your paper.  Within your paper itself, you'll put a superscript number after the related sentence, figure, or table.  See the In-text Citation Tab for more examples.

Personal communications and unpublished works are not viewed as "acceptable" references and should not appear in the final list.  However, these items may be valuable resources and if you used a resource, it must be cited.  Do so with a parenthetical in-text citation. See the In-text Citation Tab for specifics.

Here's an example of a reference list.  Notice that the authors are not in alphabetical order but rather in an order based on how the work was discussed in the article.

  1. Finking G, Hanke H. Nikolaj Nikolajewitsch Anitschkow (1885-1964) established the cholesterol-fed rabbit as a model for atherosclerosis research. Atherosclerosis. 1997;135(1):1-7.
  2. Steinberg D. Thematic review series: the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. J Lipid Res. 2005;46(2):179-190.
  3. Keys A, Aravanis C, Blackburn HW, et al. Epidemiological studies related to coronary heart disease: characteristics of men aged 40-59 in 7 countries. Acta Med Scand Suppl. 1966;460(suppl1):1-392.
  4. Kannel WB, Dawber TR, Kagan A, Revotskie N, Stokes J III. Factors of risk in the development of coronary heart disease—6-year follow-up experience: the Framingham Study. Ann Intern Med. 1961;55:33-50.
  5. Martin SS, Blaha MJ, Elshazly MB, et al. Comparison of a novel method vs the Friedewald equation for estimating low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels from the standard lipid profile. JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280532.

(Partial reference list from article: Gaziano JM, Gaziano TA. What's New With Measuring Cholesterol?. JAMA. 2013;310(19):2043-2044. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.282775.)

Constructing a Reference

There are some minimum requirements - items that must be present - when constructing a reference for the list.  We will focus on Journals, Books, and Websites. 


Print: Author(s) or Editors*. Article title. Journal Name. Publication Year;volume(issue No.):inclusive pages.

Online: Author(s) or Editors. Article title. Journal Name. Publication Year;volume(issue No.):inclusive pages. URL. Accessed [date].


Print: Author(s) or Editors. Book Title. Edition # (if it is the 2nd or above). City, State (or Country) of publisher: Publisher's name; Copyright year.

Online**: Author(s) or Editors. Book Title. Edition # (if it is the 2nd or above). City, State (or Country) of publisher: Publisher's name; Copyright year. URL. Accessed [date].


Author(s) or Editors {or, if no author is available, name the organization responsible for the site}. Title {or, if no title, name the organization responsible for the site}. Name of the website (ex:Facebook). URL. Published [date]. Updated [date]. Accessed [date].

*For more than 6 authors, list the first 3 as normal, followed by et al.

**Online books are those accessible on the Internet or through library databases which have a URL.  Treat downloaded books (on kindle or nook, for example) as print books but you may wish to indicate "Kindle edition" (or nook or other e-reader as the case may be) as sometimes print and kindle editions differ.