October 13, 2015

Questions From Users of the Manual

Filed under: frequently asked questions — amastyleinsider @ 3:19 pm
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Q: What guidance can you offer as to the inclusion of white space in a publication? My company prefers that level 1 headings begin on a new page, but if the text beneath the heading is only a single paragraph, wouldn’t it be preferable for that heading and its text to share the page with the preceding or the subsequent heading and text?

A: This is really an individual decision for each publisher/publication. Especially in the days of print-only publications, many journal editors tried to optimize the use of every page as each journal had a page budget per issue/per year. In some of the JAMA Network specialty journals. for instance, the journal editors specifically developed short items that could be placed, as space allowed, at the ends of articles that ended with at least half a page of white space…thereby using every bit of space that they could to provide interesting and educational information to their readers. White space was never (to my knowledge) used within an article in the way you are describing.

In the JAMA Network journals, there is no page break before the major headings in an article (eg, Methods, Results, Discussion). This would indeed create a lot of white space. In books, on the other hand, this is fairly customary…you do see that each chapter begins on a new page.

In conclusion, to start each major part of a journal article on a new page would create a very odd-looking journal with lots of white space scattered willy-nilly throughout. Perhaps the desire to emphasize each major part of an article could be accomplished with some other design consideration (eg, style of headings).—Cheryl Iverson, MA

September 14, 2015

Questions From Users of the Manual

Filed under: frequently asked questions — amastyleinsider @ 10:35 am
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Q: I would like to know how to reference a Kindle book.

A: This question was addressed on this very blog on May 7, 2012. We love questions, though, so feel free to send them in as well as using the search box on the top right corner of the blog home page. Also, we are working now on revising the manual for the next edition and we will be including lots more examples of online reference styles.


Q: How should an “e-pub ahead of print” reference be cited in the reference list?

A: There are a few examples in the current manual, but we plan to include many more examples of citing electronic documents in the next edition—and we are deep in discussions (some might say “arguments”) about a style change, so stay tuned!  See 3.15.1, examples 14 through 17. Note, however, that we have now dropped the words “ahead of print” in the phrase that appears in brackets.   Here is an example from JAMA Pediatrics:

Keren R, Shah SS, Srivastava R, et al. Comparative effectiveness of intravenous vs oral antibiotics for postdischarge treatment of acute osteomyelitis in children [published online December 15, 2014].  JAMA Pediatr.  doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.2822.

Q: How would I introduce an abbreviation that first appears in a compound word? For example, if my first use of traumatic brain injury was in TBI-related complications?

A: I would recommend the following: traumatic brain injury (TBI)–related injuries. (That’s an en-dash before related.)—Cheryl Iverson, MA

July 21, 2015

May 19, 2015

Questions From Users of the Manual

Filed under: frequently asked questions — amastyleinsider @ 9:43 am
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Q: I am putting together an annotated bibliography for a manuscript. What is the correct order recommended by the AMA Manual of Style for citing multiple articles by the same author? Is it by date of publication or article title?

A: The JAMA Network journals do not use a name-date style of reference citation. Instead they use a superscript reference citation system. If you look in the 10th edition of the Manual of Style, section 3.6 (Citation), you will see further information on this. So, it matters not the date of publication or the article title. What is key is the order in which the reference is cited in the paper, eg, the first reference to be cited would be reference 1, the second would be reference 2. (And if reference 1 is cited again later in the paper, it would still remain reference 1.)

Q: What do you tell authors who object to the house style your publications follow by saying that “Everybody does X [rather than what you recommend].”?

A: When people respond like this, I find that it’s helpful to look at what a few key style manuals or journals in the field (based on their Instructions for Authors) do in areas in which people have complaints or concerns. If you can put together a little chart (nothing fancy) showing that indeed maybe it is not EVERYBODY who does X, real data can sometimes calm the fevered brow. And sometimes you may find that indeed most others do have a different policy than what your house style recommends. Then it may be time to reconsider your policy. Sometimes this is how style policies change, and that can be a good thing. We learn from our authors just as we hope they learn from us.—Cheryl Iverson, MA

April 21, 2015

Questions From Users of the Manual

Filed under: frequently asked questions — amastyleinsider @ 10:52 am

Q: I am writing on behalf of my editorial department. We are all very curious to know when we should follow the style outlined in 3.13.2, which calls for headline caps and italics for the publication’s title vs the style outlined in 3.15. 5, which in most cases calls for the title to be set in roman and title case. Why, in example 6 in 3.15.5, is the title set like those for 3.13.2? Is there a distinction between bulletins and reports?

A: Perhaps the line here is fine.  In 3.13.2, the examples are all bulletins. These are more like books, hence the cap and italic style you asked about. In 3.15.5, the examples are all reports. These might be booklike but they often are more like journal articles. The advice right before the examples is to use journal style for articles and book style for monographs. Reference 6, which you ask about, seems more booklike as it has a volume number. Sometimes it is really difficult to know what something is. If it is available online, you might look at it and be more easily able to determine what sort of “beast” it is.

Q: To adhere to the guidelines in the AMA Manual of Style must an author document all sources with footnotes in the text in chronological order? It’s my understanding that doing so serves, in essence, as a form of fact checking. Does your manual offer any other other guidance on fact checking?

A: Yes, we recommend that all sources cited in a manuscript be included in the reference list for the manuscript (with a few exceptions, which we recommend citing parenthetically in the text). These are not, however, cited chronologically (if by that you mean from the earliest published to the most recently published) but rather in order of citation in the manuscript (ie, the first reference cited would be reference 1, that cited second would be reference 2, etc; and if a reference is cited several times, it would each time retain its original reference number, so that if reference 2 is not only cited second but also appears later in the manuscript, it would still remain reference 2).

Whether this citation of references constitutes “fact checking” is a bit trickier to be sure of. As our manual states in the chapter on references, “References serve 3 primary purposes—documentation, acknowledgment, and directing or linking the reader to additional resources.” Citing a reference, and thereby crediting another source for the material cited, and also linking the reader to additional resources, is related to fact checking in that a reader could follow that link (ie, go to the reference cited) and make sure that it has been cited accurately. Whether that constitutes fact checking, though, is unclear. It does ensure that the original source has been cited/quoted correctly. But it doesn’t tell a reader if in fact that source is correct.—Cheryl Iverson, MA

March 18, 2015

Questions From Users of the Manual

Filed under: frequently asked questions — amastyleinsider @ 3:44 pm
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Q: We are having a discussion about –ic and –ical. Dictionaries often use both. Where does the AMA Manual stand on this?

A: Please refer to the Correct and Preferred Usage chapter in the manual. You’ll see an entry on this very subject. In addition, there are entries on some of the pairs of words where the meaning of the –ic version is different from that of the –ical version (eg, classic/classical, historic/historical).

Q: Does AMA style advise against using a period after the abbreviation Inc?

A: Yes, we advise against using a period after the abbreviation Inc. This is addressed in section 14.7.

Q: In the course of developing a manuscript, an author has retired. Should we delete her affiliation? Or perhaps indicate something about her retirement in parentheses?

A: I would list the author’s affiliation, assuming she was affiliated with this institution while working on the paper. Then, follow the guidance about Author’s Affiliation (section 2.3.3) if a person has moved. This would mean adding an indication that Dr X is now retired. The style used for this notation will depend on the design of the journal involved. —Cheryl Iverson, MA

February 5, 2015

November 26, 2014

Questions From Users of the Manual

Filed under: frequently asked questions — amastyleinsider @ 3:35 pm
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Q: I am used to writing “compared with” when discussing results/measurements. Can you please comment on whether this is correct?

A: This is addressed in the glossary in chapter 11. See “compare to, compare with.” You’ll see there that “compare with” is usually used when the aim is to examine similarities or differences in detail.

Q: I was trained in other settings to ignore having to write out the state on first mention if the city is well known, especially if the readership is primarily American. For example, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco would not require adding the state name on first mention. Something like Spring Green would. What would AMA style require?

A: Please see section 14.5, where this is addressed in detail. The key sentence is this:  “At first mention, the name of a state, territory, possession, province, or country should be spelled out when it follows the name of a city.” In earlier editions, we used to follow a policy something like what you describe but changed that as it was a matter of opinion what was “well known” and what was not.  Also, with the international readership of so many publications, this becomes a trickier question.—Cheryl Iverson, MA

July 1, 2014

Questions From Users of the Manual

Filed under: frequently asked questions — amastyleinsider @ 10:38 am
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Q: I note in the manual that you do not require the use of the registered trademark symbol with brand names, as long as an initial capital letter is used (see 5.6.16, Use of Trademark Names in Publication).  Does this guideline apply to copy in medical books as well as medical journals?

A:  You are right that our manual does not encourage the use of the little “R” in a circle or the superscript TM to denote trademarks but rather relies on the initial cap to signify a trademark. As to what style would apply to books (medical or other), it really all comes down to what style the book publisher uses. The Chicago Manual of Style (section 8.152) states: “Although the symbols [cap R in a circle and superscript TM] for registered and unregistered trademarks, respectively) often accompany trademark names on product packaging and in promotional material, there is no legal requirement to use these symbols, and they should be omitted wherever possible.”

I think you would be fairly safe in zapping the symbol and just using the initial cap, unless the style guide you are following in editing a book dictates otherwise.

Q: What do you recommend re capitalization for something like the word “test” or “examination” or “questionnaire” in names of specific tests, examinations, or questionnaires?

A: Our style manual (section 10.3.8) advises the following regarding capping the “t” on “test” when it follows the name of a specific test. I would extrapolate from this to cover similar questions.

Tests.  The exact and complete titles of tests and subscales of tests should be capitalized.  The word test is not usually capitalized except when it is part of the official name of the test.  Always verify exact names of any tests with the author or with reference sources.

Examples where a cap would be correct include the Mini-Mental State Examination and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory.—Cheryl Iverson, MA

June 11, 2014

Questions From Users of the Manual

Filed under: frequently asked questions — amastyleinsider @ 9:47 am
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Q: My colleagues and I are debating the correctness of the following sentence:  If any of the side effects gets serious, contact the study doctor.

A: If you remove the words “of the” from your sentence, you will find the answer(s) readily apparent. If there is one side effect, you’d use the singular:  “If any side effect becomes serious….”  If there is more than one side effect, you’d use the plural:  If any side effects become serious….”

Q: Should “week” or “weeks” be used in the following sentences?

 The changes in serum creatinine remained stable from week/weeks 48 to 96.

Nausea typically develops between the fourth and sixth week/weeks of pregnancy.

A: We would suggest using “weeks” in both examples. It would, of course, not be incorrect to repeat “week,” eg, “…at week 48 and week 96,” but for efficiency you could use “…at weeks 48 and 96.”—Cheryl Iverson, MA

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