Recently, a user of the AMA Manual of Style wrote to us with questions about how to edit web references. As we worked to answer her questions, we discovered that although the manual provides instructions and examples for editing web references, the task can often make an editor feel like the proverbial fly trapped in the web of the spider.
One reason for this feeling is that it is often difficult to discern the types of materials available on websites. For example, delineating between authors and publishers as well as books or reports and journal-type articles can be challenging. Therefore, this month’s Style Book Quiz is on editing web references. Answers have been determined by extrapolating from the information in the AMA Manual of Style.
As an introduction to the full quiz, edit the following web reference:
Guidelines for the use of antiretroviral agents in HIV-1-infected adults and adolescents. Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents, Department of Health and Human Services. http://aidsinfo.nih.gov/contentfiles/lvguidelines/adultandadolescentgl.pdf. Accessed October 30, 2014.
Highlight for the answer: Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. Guidelines for the use of antiretroviral agents in HIV-1-Infected Adults and Adolescents. Rockville, MD: US Dept of Health and Human Services. http://aidsinfo.nih.gov/contentfiles/lvguidelines/adultandadolescentgl.pdf. Accessed October 30, 2014.
Often government reports provide a suggested citation format. In this case, the suggested citation (as indicated on the bottom of the title page of the report) is as follows: Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. Guidelines for the use of antiretroviral agents in HIV-1-infected adults and adolescents. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at http://aidsinfo.nih.gov/ContentFiles/AdultandAdolescentGL.pdf. Section accessed [insert date] [insert page number, table number, etc, if applicable].
This style is close to AMA style and can be adapted to it by removing “Available at” and adding “US” before “Department of Health and Human Services.” In addition, one of the questions that arises with web publications is whether to style a title as a book title (initial capital letters and italicized type) or journal title (only the first word of the title capitalized and roman type). According to the AMA Manual of Style (§3.15.5), government/organization reports “are treated much like electronic journal and book references: use journal style for articles and book style for monographs.” In this case, the manuscript is a 282-page PDF document, so it is appropriate to style the title as a book title. Because the manuscript contains no publication date, this information cannot be included in the reference.
The full quiz (available to subscribers at www.amamanualofstyle.com) provides more examples of web material that may be difficult to reference. Can we tempt you to try? Or as the spider said to the fly, “Will you walk into my parlour?”1—Laura King, MA, ELS
- Howitt M. The Spider and the Fly. http://famousliteraryworks.com/howitt_the_spider_and_the_fly_funny.htm. Accessed December 10, 2014.