Citing in AMA Format

What are citations (and why do we need them)?
Citing your sources allows people to follow up on your research -- people can look at your references to find similar research, but your citations need to be correct so other people can use that research as well! Citing your resources correctly also will help you avoid plagiarism, an issue that has serious consequences. Students found plagiarizing may fail a course or even be asked to leave the program, while faculty and researchers have been known to lose careers over it. So citing your resources is very important!

A citation is not simply a copied URL or the title of an article. URLs change, and sometimes there are multiple articles with the same title. Having all of the details, including volume, issue and page number can help researchers decipher between similar works with the same title.
When to cite
You will need to cite your sources every time you are presenting information that is not an original thought or "common knowledge." Information that is assumed common knowledge, such as "George Washington was the first President of the United States," does not need to be quoted -- you and most of the people that would be reading your paper already know that, so you don't need to search for a source to back up your statement. But anytime you have to look up information for your paper, you should be inserting a citation. For a literature review, it might feel like you are citing a lot -- that is good! Unless you are writing an essay or describing original research, you should have many citations throughout your paper.
Citing within your paper
In-text citations are referenced using a superscript number. These numbers correspond to a full reference found at the end of your paper. Each citation will be assigned a number one time, based on when they first appear in your paper. So the first citation you use will be,1 the second citation you use will be,2 and so on. If you want to cite a source that already has a reference list number associated with it, use the existing number. 
Using superscript numbers

Citations should be numbered in the body of your paper with a superscript numeral.

If you are using Google Docs, you can turn on superscript by holding down the control button and the period button at the same time (CTRL+.). If you are using Microsoft Word, PC user can use CTRL+SHIFT+= ; for Mac users, it is Command+Shift+=). The superscript numbers should be placed OUTSIDE periods and commas and INSIDE colons and semicolons. They should be used directly after naming a resource.


According to the Nei Jing, "Ignorance of the root and ends only leads to reckless action."2(p49)
Direct quotes and paraphrasing

There are two major ways of citing within your paper: Using a direct quote or paraphrasing

Direct Quote: A word-for-word sentence stated by someone else.
Paraphrase: Paraphrasing is when you restate someone else’s idea in your own words.
When citing in-text, use numbers to label your resource. Numbers should be placed OUTSIDE periods and commas and INSIDE colons and semicolons. They should be used directly after naming a resource.



As reported in a previous study,2

The results of the study support my thesis7; however, further studies should be done to replicate the results.

According to Smith,6 the patients should be treated soon after surgery.
Page numbers

If you are citing a particular section of a work, you should cite the page number. Quotations are always accompanied by a page number. Use a pfor a single page number, and pp for multiple page numbers.


Maciocia3(p439) later states that excessive consumption of hot foods may affect the Liver.
Example of two citations, one of which cites multiple page numbers:

Westman5(pp3,5),9 reported 8 cases in which vomiting occurred.
Multiple sources

When citing multiple resources, list them in numerical order, hyphens are allowed when citing a series of resources.


As reported in previous studies,6,7-9,13 students who get plenty of rest the day before taking a test report receiving higher grades than those who do not study.
Multiple authors

For references with more than 2 authors or authors and a group, include the first author's surname followed by "et al," "and associates," or "and colleagues."


Smith and Johnson6 reported.
Carrington et al7 reported.
Secondary sources

If you are reading a text that includes a quote from another resource that you would like to cite, this is called a secondary citation. If possible, you should always try to go back and use the original source, but if you are unable to do so, you can quote the secondary resource.

In the actual text of your paper where the citation occurs, refer to the original source, but in your reference list, your citation will reference both the original source and secondary source. Click here to view how to format this kind of citation in your reference list.

For example, if you were reading The Heart Transmission of Medicine by Liu Yi-ren, and found a quote from the Nei Jing you would actually state that the quote is from the clasical text, but the citation and reference you would use would be for Liu Yi-ren's book:
  • According to the Nei Jing, "Ignorance of the root and ends only leads to reckless action."5(p208)
*Here, the citation source and page number would refer to Liu Yi-ren's book, since that is where you found the direct quote, but it is important to note that the quote is originally from another text.
But if you were quoting an analysis of the Nei Jing by Liu Yi-ren, then you would just quote Yi-ren's book, as normal.
Personal communication

Personal communications or information that have not yet gone to publication should be not listed on the reference page, but should be cited in the text of your paper. Personal communications should list the name of the source, any educational credentials, mode of communication, and the month and date. Unpublished work should include name of the researcher/author, any educational credentials, and the month and date of the research.

Personal communication:
  • The patient stated that the treatment had been helpful (Rebecca C., oral communication, September 2012).
  • In a conversation with the patient, Rebecca C. stated that the treatment had been helpful (September 2012).
Unpublished work:
  • More recent research corroborates this theory (J. Smith, MD, unpublished data, November 2012). 
While it is better to use images you have created, sometimes you will need to use previously published images within your work. Written permission is necessary to use another person's copyrighted image in your work. Generally, the copyright holder is the person that created the image or the publisher from where you found the image. You should cite the original source in the image legend (also known as the caption) and include the permission statement.

Reprinted with permission from the American Acupuncture Association.3

Reference entries should be listed and numbered in the order they were cited in your paper. If the citation extends to a second line, do NOT indent (as in APA). Example:


  1. Maciocia G. The Foundations Of Chinese Medicine. Edinburgh: Elsevier; 2015.
  2. West Z, Isaacs L. Acupuncture In Pregnancy And Childbirth. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008.
  3. Gage B, Fihn S, White R. Management and dosing of warfarin therapy. Am J Med. 2000;109(6):481-488. doi:10.1016/s0002-9343(00)00545-3.
  4. Mast T, DeMuro-Mercon C, Kelly C, Floyd L, Walter E. The impact of rotavirus gastroenteritis on the family. BMC Pediatr. 2009;9(1). doi:10.1186/1471-2431-9-11.
Citing multiple authors
For six or fewer authors, list each author and separate each author with a comma. 
Mast T, DeMuro-Mercon C, Kelly C, Floyd L, Walter E. The impact of rotavirus gastroenteritis on the family. BMC Pediatr. 2009;9(1). doi:10.1186/1471-2431-9-11.

If there are more than 6 authors, list only the first 3 authors, followed by et al.
Mast T, DeMuro-Mercon C, Kelly C, et al. The impact of rotavirus gastroenteritis on the family. BMC Pediatr. 2009;9(1). doi:10.1186/1471-2431-9-11.
To capitalize or not to capitalize?
AMA uses title case for book and journal titles, and sentence case for chapter and article titles. 

Title case is when each word in the sentence is capitalized. For example, the book:
The Foundations of Chinese Medicine.

Sentence case is when only the first letter and any proper nouns are capitalized. For example, the journal article:
Traditional Chinese medicine speeds up humerus fracture healing: two case reports.


Use Title Case for the title of the book.

Authorname AA, Authorname BB. Title of Book. Edition information. Place of Publication: Publisher Name; year of publication.
1. Maciocia G. The Practice of Chinese Medicine: The Treatment of Diseases with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs. 2nd ed. Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier; 2009.

Chapter in a Book

Use Sentence case for the book chapter, and Title Case for the title of the book.

Authorname AA. Title of chapter. In: Editorname BB, Editorname CC, eds. Title of Book. Edition information. Place of Publication: Publisher Name; year of publication: page numbers.
2. Maitra A, Kumar V. The heart. In: Kumar V, Abbas AK, Fausto N, Mitchell RD, eds. Robbins Basic Pathology. 9th ed. Saunders/Elsevier; 2013:365-406.
E-Books use the same format as print books, but include the URL and accessed date at the end.

3. Liu G. Discussion Of Cold Damage (Shang Han Lun) : Commentaries And Clinical Applications. Singing Dragon; 2016. Accessed September 20, 2018.

4. Liu G. Differentiation and treatment of Shao Yang disease based on examining pulses, symptoms and signs. Discussion of Cold Damage (Shang Han Lun) : Commentaries and Clinical Applications. Singing Dragon; 2016. Accessed September 20, 2018.
Journal articles
For journal articles, use Sentence case; for the journal title, use Title Case. AMA recommends that you use journal title abbreviations when available. For example, The American Journal of Acupuncture would be Am J Acupunct. You can look up journal title abbreviations using the NLM Catalog.

Print Journal Article

Authorname AA. Article title. Journal Title Abbreviation. Year;volume no.(issue no.):inclusive pages. DOI, if provided
3. Mitchell P, Wells JE. Acupuncture for chronic asthma: a controlled trial with six months follow-up. Am J Acupunct. 1989;17(1):5-13.

Electronic Journal Article

You should always include the DOI, if available. For online articles that do not include a DOI number, you can include the URL and accessed date. Do not use URLs from databases that are excessively long. Do not use a URL or accessed date for articles with a DOI.

Authorname AA. Article title. Journal Title Abbreviation. Year; volume no.(issue no.):inclusive pages. Accessed date (if using a URL). URL or DOI

5. Hseuh T, Hsienhsueh E, Wang T, et al. Traditional Chinese medicine speeds up humerus fracture healing: two case reports. Complement Ther Med. 2012;20(6):431-433. Accessed November 19, 2012.
5. Hseuh T, Hsienhsueh E, Wang T, et al. Traditional Chinese medicine speeds up humerus fracture healing: two case reports. Complement Ther Med. 2012;20(6):431-433. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2012.08.002.

E-Journal Article with no page numbers

Use as much information is possible. Some online resources use digital identifiers -- include those when available.
Jepson RG, Williams G, Craig JC. Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(10):CD001321. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001321.pub5

E-Pub Ahead of Print Journal Article

Messerli FH. Chocolate consumption, cognitive function, and Nobel laureates. N Engl J Med. Accepted manuscript. Published online October 10, 2012. doi:10.1056/NEJMon1211064.
Reference databases

Drug or Medical Reference Database

Authors (if known). Title of Database. Publisher’s Name: Year of publication and/or version number. Updated date. Accessed date. URL
6. Natural Medicines: Medical Conditions. Natural Medicines; 2016. Updated August 18, 2015. Accessed November 12, 2016.

Specific Drug or Medical Condition Article in a Reference Database

Authors (if known). Title of Article. Title of Database. Publisher’s Name: Year of publication and/or version number. Updated date. Accessed date. URL
7. Dong Quai. In: Natural Medicines: Foods, Herbs & Supplements. Natural Medicines; 2016. Updated October 10, 2016. Accessed November 12, 2016.,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=936

Author, if given. Title of the specific item cited (if no title is given, use the name of the organization responsible for the site). Name of the website. Published date. Updated date. Accessed date. URL (Including as much publication information as available.)

8. Rabinowitz N. Acupuncture and pregnancy. Acufinder. Accessed November 19, 2012.

Use journal style for articles, book style for monographs.
9. U.S. Department of Health, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Expert panel report 3 (EPR - 3): guidelines for the diagnosis and management of asthma - summary report 2007. Published October, 2007. Accessed October 24, 2012.
Audiovisual materials

A/V Materials

The format for audiotapes, videotapes, and DVDs are similar to books, but sometimes you will need to include the format of the references in your citation.

Author. Title of Item. Publisher Name; Year of publication.

10. Yuen J. The Spleen and Stomach Primary Channels of Classical Chinese Medicine. DVD. Academy of Classical Chinese Medicine; 2016.

Online Video

For videos, provide the author only if you are sure that person created the video. Do not list the person posting the video online as the author. If you are unsure, treat the citation as having no author.

Author(s). Title of specific item cited. Publisher; Date. Accessed date. URL

11. [Funny] Japanese elevator prank. YouTube. Accessed September 21, 2018.

12. Valadez-Martinez L. Things about a PhD nobody told you about. YouTube. TEDx Talks; 2016. Accessed September 21, 2018.
Student papers and unpublished theses
Theses should include the location of the college where the theses was written. Titles of theses should be in italics, and include the type of thesis after the title.

13. Resko E, Sigrist E. Treating PTSD with Chinese Medicine: A Manual for Practitioners. Master's thesis. Oregon College of Oriental Medicine; 2010. 
Lecture or class material
For class lectures or class handouts that are not published materials, use the "unpublished materials" format.

Author. Title of Presentation. Paper, Poster, or lecture presented at: Place it was presented; date; location.

14. Marx B. Key issues in research. Lecture presented at: RE504 Integrative Medicine Research I; October 22, 2018; Portland, OR.

15. Marx B. Key issues in research. Powerpoint presented at: RE504 Integrative Medicine Research I; October 22, 2018; Portland, OR.
Secondary sources
Although it is always best to go back to the original source, you may reference one author's citation or quote from another's work.

In the text of your paper, mention the name of the original author, but your reference list should only include the reference you actually consulted. For example, if you wanted to quote a passage by Sue Fawn Chong (who wrote Fighting for Their American Rights: A History of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance) that was quoted in Marie Rose Wong's book, Sweet Cakes, Long Journey, you would name Chung in the text of your paper, but reference Wong's book in your reference list:

Sue Fawn Chung noted that Oregon customs houses aided undocumented Chinese in entering the country; two Portland customs officers were even implicated in allowing fake certificates through "for a price."16(p123)  

16. Wong MR. Sweet Cakes, Long Journey: The Chinatowns of Portland, Oregon. University of Washington Press; 2011.
Figures and images that you have reproduced within your text should be treated similar to quotations, meaning that in your reference list, you will include the reference where the figure or image came from. If you found the figure or image in a book, in your reference list you would include that book, if it was from a website, format the reference for a website.
Section in plane of superior cerebellar peduncle. Illustration by Frank Netter. Reprinted with permission from Elsevier Inc.17  

17. Netter FH. Netter Atlas of Human Anatomy: Classic Regional Approach. 8th ed. Elsevier Inc; 2023.
Author. Title of Pamphlet. Description. Publisher Name. Year Created (if available). Accessed Month Day, Year (if applicable). URL (if applicable)
18. Chan, HPY. The 8 Diagrams, 8 Octants, 8 Regions, Locations, Directions, Zang-Fu and 13 Acuzones. Chart. Hoy Ping Yee Chan. 2004.
What is a citation manager?
Citation managers help you to easily manage your research. Finding a great research article is one thing, but quickly finding it in the labyrinth of your computer is a completely different beast. Citation managers not only allow you to organize your resources so you can quickly find articles for the project you are working on, but they help you create citations for your paper. The OCOM Library highly suggests using a citation manager in order to keep track and easily cite resources. Zotero is great because it is FREE and integrates with Microsoft Word / LibreOffice, allowing you to quickly insert citations into your paper as you write it. It will even create a reference page for you! Mendeley is another great tool, as well. 
Citation Generators
Even if you are not using a citation manager like Zotero, you can still use an online citation generator to create citations in AMA format. Below are a few that we recommend. A word of caution: these are machine generated, and mistakes happen! Make sure to double-check any computer-generated citations before turning in your assignment to check for errors.



ZoteroBib helps you build a bibliography instantly from any computer or device, without creating an account or installing any software. It’s brought to you by the team behind Zotero, the powerful open-source research tool recommended by thousands of universities worldwide, so you can trust it to help you seamlessly add sources and produce perfect bibliographies. If you need to reuse sources across multiple projects or build a shared research library, we recommend using Zotero instead. If you like writing things out by hand or do not want to learn a new program, then you will need to create your citations manually; ZoteroBib will let you add citations by searching for the PMID or DOI number.
Need help?
Contact a librarian to set up a one-on-one consultation about your citation management needs. We can talk about what you need, your workflow, and help you get set up with a system that works for you.
What is Zotero?

Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research resources.

This video, put together by Kyle Denlinger at Wake Forrest University, is a great place to learn about some of Zotero's major functions.

Installing Zotero
  Go to the Zotero Download page

There are two things to download for Zotero:
  1. The standalone Zotero program, and
  2. The Zotero Connector (which allows you to extract citations from your web browser). 
Creating a Zotero account

1. There are several ways to set up an account in Zotero.  If you have not already set up an account, one way to do this is by going to the Zotero website, and clicking Register in the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Zotero Register


2.  This link takes you to a Zotero account registration page.  Choose whatever username and email address you want to start an account.  

3.  You will receive a confirmation email once your account is set up.

Email validation

4.  Click on the link in the email to confirm your account set up.

Account creation

Building your library

Adding Full-Text to your library

Many databases automatically import full-text PDFs into your Zotero library. If you are logged in with your Zotero account, you will be able access the full-text from multiple devices. This is handy if you are collecting research on a desktop computer, but want to read articles on your iPad.

If you do not have a PDF copy of the article in your Zotero library but you found the article in another database or ordered it via Interlibrary Loan, you can add the PDF to your citation by simply dragging and dropping the PDF from your file browser on to the citation in your Zotero library.

If you do not have a citation already saved in your library but you have a PDF, you can drag and drop the file directly in to your Zotero library. Then right-click on the PDF and select "Retrieve Metadata for PDF."
If this works correctly, Zotero will automatically find the citation information for your PDF and create a record for the item in your Zotero library:
Using the Zotero Connector
The easiest way to add citations to your Zotero library is by using the Zotero Connector. When you are looking at a record in a database, you will see an icon in your browser toolbar. Depending on what type of resource you are looking at (article, book, magazine, video, etc.), the icon will look different. In the following image, you can see that we are looking at a journal article, so the icon looks like a piece of paper. Click on the icon, and the article citation will be automatically saved to your library.

If you are looking at a list of articles, you will see a folder icon; clicking on this will allow you to batch select multiple resources to add to your Zotero library.

Most databases work with just a simple click, but some (including Gale) have problems linking to your Zotero library. For trouble sites, you can right click in the webpage, and under the Zotero Connector menu, select "Save to Zotero (Embedded Metadata).
Manually adding citations

1. If the "add to Zotero" icons are not available on the URL address bar or if you just want to add the citation information for something that is sitting on your desk, click the green circle on the Zotero toolbar to manually add items to your Zotero library.

Manual add icon

2. Choose what type of item it is from the drop down menu (notice the "more" option).

Manual drop down menu

3.  You will be given blank fields in which to enter the information about your item (in the right-hand pane).

Entry fields

4.  Click on the fields and/or use the tab key to navigate through the fields.

Blank fields

5.  View your completed entry in the center and right-hand panes.

Completed entry

Using Zotero web interface
You do not have to download and install Zotero in order to use it. You can access your library at, add citations, and read saved articles. You can also export citations, though this option is much more limited than the Standalone version, which allows for pretty much every citation style under the sun.
Exporting citations
You will need to use your web browser to access your Zotero library.
  1. Go to Log in, or create an account if you are a new user.
  2. Click on the "My Library" tab
  3. If you would like to export a collection, view the collection then click the Cite button. Select the style you would like to use, then copy the resulting citations to paste into Google Docs or another writing program.

You can export citations from your online Zotero library by clicking into the article record, and clicking on the Cite button:

You will be given the option to select which citation style you would like to use. The web version of Zotero does not support AMA format, but National Library of Medicine (NLM) style is very similar.

Select NLM style, and copy the citation that is formatted for you. Paste this citation in to your document, and modify it so that it meets the AMA style guidelines. Note that in the app, you can import AMA as a style.
iOS / Android users
If you use an Android tablet or an iPad, you will not be able to use the writing plugin. You can still use Zotero -- you just won't be able to use all the bells and whistles. The pared down version requires you to use the Zotero bookmarklet to save citations.

Use the Zotero bookmarklet.
  1. Create a new bookmark. Name it something like, "Save to Zotero," and paste the following code into the URL:
    javascript:var d=document,s=d.createElement('script');s.src='';(d.body?d.body:d.documentElement).appendChild(s);void(0);
  2. When you find a book or article you would like to save to your Zotero library, simply click on your custom "Save to Zotero" bookmark. You will be asked to sign in to Zotero, and once you are logged in, the citation will automatically be saved.
Zotero apps
If you are an iOS user, the Library recommends PaperShip, which will allow you to save, access, and read your saved citations from your mobile device. For an extra $4.99, you can add on the annotations feature, which will allow you to make notes and mark up your readings.
Additional help
The OCOM Library offers Zotero assistance, but for those of you who like to learn things independently, OSU has an excellent online Zotero tutorial. Jason Puckett's LibGuide at Georgia State University is also a really great reference. As always, feel free to stop by the library and talk to a librarian for more help!


Installing Zotero for Firefox
Installing Zotero Standalone
Saving Citations
Creating Bibliographies
Synchronize your Library
Group Libraries
Add AMA Citation Style to Firefox or Standalone

Zotero Forums (search here if you come across an issue in Zotero)
Mastering Zotero online guide
Using Zotero on an iPad
Tips and Tricks
1. This guide includes content modified from Oregon State University's Zotero guide.
Citing in AMA format using Google Docs
You have a couple of options for adding citations in AMA format to your paper in Google Docs. They are:
  1. Manually add and manage your citations and bibliography. If you just have a few citations, this is a pretty easy task. But this can become extremely time consuming if you have a large number of citations, or if your citations show up multiple times throughout your document. This is only recommended for those who are working on shorter documents that have very few citations.
  2. Use Zotero in Google Docs to create citations and a bibliography. You can sign up for a free Zotero account using your OCOM Gmail account, and then quickly add your saved citation. This is recommended for those who are adding many citations, or if your citations show up multiple times throughout your paper.
Manually creating citations
First, use a citation generator such as or, or manually create the references you will need for your biblography.

Next, go through your paper and number your citations. The numbers should be formatted using superscript, which makes the text smaller and aligned to the top. 

You will need to match up each citation in your paper with the references in your bibliography. Your bibliography is numbered based on the order that they appear in your paper. The first citation is number 1, the second citation is number 2, etc. Note that each reference is assigned a SINGLE number in your paper. If you use a reference multiple times in your paper, use the same number for each additional citation.

This process can be cumbersome and it is quite easy to mess up your citations when doing this by hand. It is time consuming and requires attention to detail, and this method is not recommended for longer papers that include many citations.

Using Zotero
You have Zotero installed on the computer / browser you are using, you'll see a Zotero add-on automatically installed within your Google Doc. This links up so you can just insert citations from your library. If you are already using Zotero, this is the quickest and easiest method. You need to have the Zotero program open and running in order to use this option.

When you click on the Add/edit citation link, a popup window will appear that will ask you to select a citation style. If it looks like nothing is happening, check to see that the popup is not hidden behind your current window.