What Changes Are Coming Up in the AMA Manual of Style, 11th Edition, Hardcover?

So while we had our noses buried in the hardcover version of the AMA Manual of Style, 10th edition, changes had been happening in its much-more-dynamic online counterpart.

Punctuation, spaces, and capital letters have disappeared. Some acronyms no longer need to be expanded. And that morbid cross at the end of deceased authors’ names? Gone.

If you want the full list of revised recommendations, you can go straight to the AMA Manual of Style website.

Now if you’re pressed for time and just want to see the most relevant changes for the healthcare communications industry, read on.

Note: The revisions are listed in chronological order, beginning with the most recent.

No need to define ‘HIV’

No introductions needed for the best-known virus in the world (Image by CDC)

28 Sep 2017 — In this day and age when more people have heard of “HIV” than the “human immunodeficiency virus,” the AMA agrees it’s no longer necessary to write down the full phrase followed by the acronym in parentheses before we use “HIV” alone in the rest of the text.

No more death daggers for deceased authors’ names

30 January 2017 — If an author is deceased, the manual now recommends we mention this fact in the Acknowledgement section (eg, “First author John Doe, PhD, died on December 1, 2017”) rather than add a dagger (†) at the end of the author’s name in the byline.

No period after DOI

12 August 2016 — If you include the digital object identifier (DOI) of a published article in your reference list, do not add a period at the end.

This change wants to eliminate the risk that the resulting link would include that period, ending up with the reader reaching an error page.


In case you’re wondering, “What is a DOI?”

A DOI is like a permanent link assigned to an academic or a government article so that readers can easily and reliably find it online.

In reference lists, the DOI is placed at the very end of the citation. For example:

McDermid RC, Bagshaw SM. Prolonging life and delaying death: the role of physicians in the context of limited intensive care resources. Philos Ethics Humanit Med. 2009;4:3. doi:10.1186/1747-5341-4-3

(Notice the lack of period at the end?)

Now try typing doi.org/ in your internet browser’s address bar. And then, paste the above article’s DOI immediately after the slash.

Voila! The article associated with that DOI appears. Cool, huh?


‘Internet’ is no longer capitalized

Apparently, somebody decided that since the internet now such a common thing, it’s about time it was written as a common noun, like ‘plant,’ ‘camera,’ ‘headphones,’ etc. (Image by Skitterphoto)

18 April 2016 — Feel free to write “internet,” unless it’s the first word in a sentence.

‘Email’ is no longer hyphenated

December 2014 — Email is now a closed compound, as far as the AMA Manual of Style is concerned (although Merriam-Webster does not yet quite agree).

Note, however, that this de-hyphenation does not carry over to other e- compounds. So it’s still

  • e-commerce,
  • e-zine, and
  • e-learning.

In title case, it’s Email but e-Book.

‘Website’ is one word

18 January 2012 — Ending the argument as to whether it’s “Web site” or “website,” AMA has sided with the one-word, no-caps variant.

But the “World Wide Web” retains its initial caps.

No need to define ‘CI’

27 July 2011 — Go ahead and write CI directly rather than “confidence interval (CI).” Your readers will know what you mean.

(If your readers don’t know what the acronym stands for, it’s unlikely that giving them the expanded format will leave them any more enlightened anyway. Trust me on this.)

More no-need-to-expand acronyms

Incidentally, here’s a list of other no-need-to-define biomedical acronyms that are already marked as such in the AMA 10th ed., hardcover:

  • AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)
  • DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane; who would ever want to spell this out anyway?)
  • DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)
  • EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid)
  • HLA (human leukocyte antigen)
  • Rh (Rhesus)
  • RNA (ribonucleic acid)
  • UV (ultraviolet)

Disclaimer

The recommendations listed in the subheads are paraphrased from the AMA Manual of Style website.

The commentaries in the body are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the AMA writers.

Although the listed revisions are expected to appear in the 11th edition of the AMA Manual of Style, the author of this article has no information as to when the said edition will be published. Other revisions in recommendations may still appear before then.