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AMA Referencing (Vancouver)

Journal articles and Cochrane reviews

AMA journal reference example

AMA Manual cover[3.11]

Use this format if:

  • You have an article in a publication that is produced on a regular basis (a "serial" publication), such as a journal or magazine.

Minimum information needed (in bold):

  • Author(s) surnames and initials. If you have more than six authors/editors, list only the first three followed by “et al”
  • Article title and subtitle, (not in italics, in sentence case)
  • Abbreviated Journal name (in italics, in Title Case)
  • Year (where publications are only published online or do not have pagination include [month and day, year])
  • Volume number
  • Issue number
  • Part or supplement (if relevant)
  • Page range
  • Location (page[s] or e-locator)
  • If online, DOI (preferred) or URL
  • Accessed date (only if using URL)

Important notes:

  • There are no spaces between the year, volume, issue number and page numbers.
  • If there is a DOI you should always include it at the end of the reference. 
  • DOIs can be formatted either as metadata: (e.g. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.13737) or as a URL (e.g. Whichever you choose, it is best to be consistent with formatting.
  • You only need to include an Accessed date if you have used a URL.
  • Use the URL that will take the reader directly to the article; do not include a long search string, and also avoid a short, more general URL (eg, one to the publisher’s homepage). Always include “https://” before the URL to help ensure proper linking; most sites with “http://” have changed to the more secure “https://”. The URL is not followed by a period. 
  • For some electronic journals, the articles are never published in a print format, and do not give meaningful page numbers. In this case, use the article's identifier or e-Locator in the place of page numbers. 

Journal article - electronic

Reference list

  1. Khoriati A, Antonios T, Gulihar A, Singh, B. Single vs double row repair in rotator cuff tears - A review and analysis of current evidence. J Clin Orthop Trauma. 2019;10(2):236-240.  
  2. Wilcox HM, Devejian NS, Sanchez J, Edge W, Larsen K, Ambati A. Superior vena caval thrombosis after a neonatal arterial switch procedure. Ann Pediatr Cardiol. 2020;(13)1:78-80. Accessed July 8, 2020.
  3. Rossi de Vermandois JA, Cochetti G, Del Zingaro M, et al. Evaluation of surgical site infection in mini-invasive urological surgery. Open Med (Wars). 2019;14(1):711-718.
  4. Galea S, Abdalla SM, Sturchio JL. Social determinents of health, data science, and decision-making: Forging a transdisciplinary synthesis. PLoS Med. 2020;17(6):e1003174.

AMA Manual cover[3.11.2]

  • Abbreviate and italicize names of journals. Use initial capital letters. End the abbreviated title with a full stop to denote the end of the journal name. Abbreviate according to the listing in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCIBI) NLM Catalog database Single word journal titles are not abbreviated.
  • The AMA Manual of Style provides a list of words commonly found in the titles of journals and guidance on their abbreviation for reference lists [13.10]. Note that some variations on a journal title word (eg, Advanced, Advancement, and Advances) use the same abbreviation (Adv).
  • Journal names for journals not cited in PubMed may be expanded to avoid possible confusion. 
  • Include in brackets the geographic location if it is included in the PubMed abbreviation, for example, Intern Med (Tokyo, Japan), Pediatr Nephrol (Berlin, Germany).
  • Any other title information provided in PubMed and given in brackets should be included, but do not use brackets, for example, J Comp Physiol A for J Comp Physiol [A].

AMA Manual cover[3.7]

  • Six authors/editors or less - include the names of all authors/editors.
  • More than six authors/editors - include the first three names, then shorten with et al.


Journal article with more than six authors

Reference list

1.  Rossi de Vermandois JA, Cochetti G, Del Zingaro M. et al. Evaluation of surgical site infection in mini-invasive urological surgery. Open Med (Wars). 2019;14(1):711-718.

AMA Manual cover[3.11.10]

When you are using information that was originally published in a source you have not read (e.g. quotes, statistics or data), but was cited in a source you have read, this is called secondary citations or secondary referencing. Generally speaking, you should cite the work you have in front of you. Secondary citations should be used sparingly, if at all. The only reason to use a secondary citation is if you cannot get access to the original.  Ideally, you should consider using another source for your information. If the work you have read is synthesising information from various sources, for example, a systematic review and you are paraphrasing their work, then you only need to cite the work you have read.

If it is unavoidable, give the full citation details for both sources, using "Cited by:" (for information/data) or "Quoted by:" (for quotes) to join them.

Example scenario

You have been reading a journal article by Winchester, which gives a quote by Smith and Wesson, and you want to use that quote. In your reference list, cite: Smith and Wesson (complete reference). Quoted by: Winchester (complete reference).


Smith and Wesson1(p6) noted the "complete irrelevance of this kind of data" in advanced discussions of this nature.

Reference list

  1. Smith J, Wesson A. Information that could lead to confusion.  Am J Adv Discuss. 1982;14(6):12-24. Quoted by: Winchester B. Reflections on information usage. Arch Aust Discuss. 2014;45(4):45-57.

Cochrane review example

Use this format if:

  • You have a review article from the Cochrane Library of Reviews.
  • This format can also be used for other articles published in databases, when the articles are given database numbers rather than page numbers.
  • Cochrane recommends reviews are to be cited as electronic journal articles, and they offer advice for citing the articles on their records. This link provides further information and examples:
  • AMA does not include "Art no." as part of the style. Instead, place the article number (without "Art no") in the place of the page numbers for a normal journal article. 
  • There is no volume number for Cochrane reviews, so skip straight from the year to the issue number.
  • Always use the DOI instead of a URL for Cochrane reviews. 

Minimum information needed (in bold):

  • Author(s)
  • Article title (not in italics, in sentence case)
  • "Journal" Abbreviation (in italics, in Title Case) - specifically: Cochrane Database Syst Rev.
  • Year
  • Issue number
  • Document ID number (for example, CD009020.pub2)
  • DOI


Cochrane review

Reference list

  1. Ihezor-Ejiofor Z, Newton K, Dumville JC, Costa ML, Norman G, Bruce J. Negative pressure wound therapy for open traumatic wounds. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;(7):CD012522. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD012522.pub2.
  2. Williams M, Srikesavan C, Heine PJ, et al. Exercise for rheumatoid arthritis of the hand. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;(7):CD003832. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003832.pub3
  3. Herbert RD, de Noronha M, Kamper SJ. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(7):CD004577. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004577.pub3

AMA Manual cover[3.11.4]

Preprints are manuscripts published ahead of peer review. This is increasingly common in the medical and biological sciences, allowing for rapid feedback and reporting on findings.  Preprints can be find in dedicated repositories as well as some journals. Provide the date of  online publication as well as the DOI, if available.

Note: the version cited should be the version used.


Article from a preprint repository

Reference List

Grant A, Hunter PR. Immunisation, asymptomatic infection, herd immunity and the new variants of COVID-19. medRxiv. Preprint posted online January 20, 2021.


Missing information

AMA Manual cover[3.12.9]

You should always try to find a date for your sources. Most reliable sources of information will have a date - either a date for when the source was published, or a date for when it was last updated.

If you genuinely cannot find a date, and you must cite this work, use "date unknown" in place of the year.

Date unknown examples

Reference list

  1. Smith J. Carrots can cure everything.  Carrots Marketing Corporation website. Published date unknown. Accessed May 25, 2015.
  2. Brown B. Self Published Books are the Future of Science. Brisbane, Australia: Brown's Own Books; date unknown.

AMA Manual cover[3.11.6] 

You should always try to find volume and issue number for journal articles. However, some journals genuinely don’t have volume or issue numbers. If you have tried to find the information, and you simply cannot, then you skip that part of the pattern.

No volume/issue number examples

The full pattern (year;volume(issue):pages) looks like this: 2008;178(1):9-16.

If the journal does not have an issue numbers then it will be: 2008;178:9-16.

A missing volume number would look like this: 2008;(1):9-16.

And if both volume and issue numbers are missing it will look like this: 2008:9-16.

Note that you still use a colon before the page numbers.

Reference list

  1. Flyvholm MA, Susitaival P, Meding B, et al. Nordic occupational skin questionnaire—NOSQ-2002: Nordic questionnaire for surveying work-related skin diseases on hands and forearms and relevant exposure. TemaNord. April 2002:518.

  2. Johnson CL, Dohrmann SM, Kerckove VD, et al. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: National Youth Fitness Survey estimation procedures, 2012. Vital Health Stat 2. 2014;(168):1-25.

AMA Manual cover[3.11.4]

Articles are sometimes published online in advance of their appearance in the actual journal. If you find an article that is "in press" or an "advance online publication", first check to see you have the latest version of that article.

Cite it as you would a journal article, including all information available (you may not have the volume, issue or page numbers), and include published online Month DD, YYYY after the abbreviated form of the journal name. If there is a DOI provide this as it is a unique identifier for the article. 

Journal article - "in press"

Reference list

  1. Lua PL, Salihah N, Mazlan N. Effects of inhaled ginger aromatherapy on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and health-related quality of life in women with breast cancer. Complement Ther Med. Published online April 21, 2015. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2015.03.009
  2. Sadhasivam S, Zhang X, Chidambaran V, et al. Novel associations between FAAH genetic variants and postoperative central opioid-related adverse effects. Pharmacogenomics J. Published online January 6, 2015. doi:10.1038/tpj.2014.79
  3. Tamburini S, Shen N, Chih Wu H, Clemente JC. The microbiome in early life: implications for health outcomes. Nat Med. Published online July 7, 2016. doi:10.1038/nm4142