Correctly abbreviating journal names in a long reference list is often like trying to create words from a bowl of alphabet soup—all the letters are there, but arranging them can be a messy business. The AMA Manual of Style recommends that journal names be abbreviated according to the guidelines of the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Single-word journal titles are not abbreviated. For example, the journal Toxicology should not be abbreviated even though the word toxicology would be abbreviated in journal names of more than one word, such as Journal of Applied Toxicology, which would be abbreviated J Appl Toxicol. The NLM guidelines also state that articles, conjunctions, prepositions, punctuation, and diacritical marks are omitted in the abbreviated title form. Therefore, the word of in the journal name Journal of Applied Toxicology is eliminated.
That’s straightforward enough, but, as with all editing, there are exceptions. Some journals prefer to use single-word abbreviations rather than standard abbreviations, such as JAMA instead of J Am Med Assoc for Journal of the American Medical Association, BMJ instead of Br Med J for British Medical Journal, and BJOG instead of Br J Obstet Gynaecol for British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
This month’s Stylebook Quiz offers the opportunity to practice abbreviating journal names in sample references. See how you do with the following:
Zimmer Z, Martin LG, Jones BL, Nagin DS. Examining late-life functional limitation trajectories and their associations with underlying onset, recovery, and mortality. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, Journals of Gerontology. 2014;69(2):275-286.
Highlight for the answer:
Zimmer Z, Martin LG, Jones BL, Nagin DS. Examining late-life functional limitation trajectories and their associations with underlying onset, recovery, and mortality. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2014;69(2):275-286.
The correct journal name is Journals of Gerontology, Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. The correct journal abbreviation is J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci (§14.10, Names of Journals, pp 472-500 in print).
If you’re interested in additional practice abbreviating journal names, check out this month’s quiz at www.amamanualofstyle.com.—Laura King, MA, ELS