Questions From Users of the Manual

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

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