Questions From Users of the Manual

Q: Do superscript reference numbers go before or after colons? What about periods and commas?

A: Superscript reference numbers go before colons and semicolons and after commas and periods. See section 3.6.

Q: When will the next edition of the AMA Manual of Style be published?

A: We have begun work on the next (11th) edition but do not yet have a projected publication date. I think 2016 is realistic. In the meantime, I hope you avail yourself of the online updates, which provide policy changes, etc. Those are free, if you do not have an online subscription. The monthly quizzes (which are free to subscribers) are also a good way (between editions) to see more examples.

Q: On PowerPoint slides, how do you recommend citing reference sources: on each slide that is not the presenter’s own, or at the end of the presentation?

A: At present, our style manual does not address style questions related to PowerPoint presentations; however, we are considering adding a few guidelines on this in the next edition. For now, I would suggest adding the reference sources on each slide, as a footer. Because the slides are likely to be pulled apart from the entire presentation and used by others, having the source with the content seems advisable.—Cheryl Iverson, MA

2 thoughts on “Questions From Users of the Manual

  1. On superscript reference numbers: it is reasonable to put them outside punctuation to prevent confusion with exponents that are part of the text. But I’ve never understood why the position should be different for colons and semicolons. Is there a reason?

  2. The short answer is “tradition.” Tradition, without explanation. But other style manuals may follow other traditions, also unexplained: The current CSE manual advises that superscript reference numbers should go inside commas and periods. The current Chicago manual advises that superscript reference numbers should follow all punctuation marks except for the dash, which it precedes. Pick your tradition and stick to it throughout a manuscript, or a journal.

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