Updates to the Manual

The AMA Manual of Style committee continuously updates policy guidelines; these changes will be posted here as they’re implemented.

Update to Abbreviations COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2

In March 2020 the AMA Manual of Style was updated to include the newly identified severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). These entries were added in chapter 14.14 (Viruses of Humans in the Nomenclature chapter).

In line with the committee’s decision to not require expansion of the ubiquitous abbreviations AIDS and HIV, we now allow use of COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 without expansion in all elements of a paper: title, abstract, text, figures, tables, and boxes.

The online style manual will be updated to add these entries to the list of clinical abbreviations in chapter 13.11, with an indication that they may be used without expansion.

February 19, 2021

Updating to Reporting Black and White Race

We have received a number of queries about the presentation of racial and ethnic terms in the AMA Manual of Style, in particular the manual’s style preference for using lowercase for the term black. The 11th edition specifies capitalizing racial and ethnic terms that derive from geographic nouns such as Asian, Alaska Native, and Latina (chapter 10.3.2, Capitalization, Proper Nouns, Sociocultural Designations), but the terms black and white have been lowercased as racial designators (because they are not derived from proper nouns).

However, ongoing and recent events spurred us to reconsider this style recommendation. The manual’s committee met several times, conducted research, and sought input on this issue from multiple sources.1-5 

The committee has concluded that we will now capitalize both Black and White, which aligns with the capitalization preference applied to other racial/ethnic categories. We acknowledge that there may be instances in which a particular context may merit exception to this guidance, for example, in cases for which capitalization could be perceived as inflammatory or otherwise inappropriate.

The online style manual has been updated to reflect this change, including the section on race/ethnicity in the Usage chapter (chapter 11.12.3, Usage, Inclusive Language, Race/Ethnicity) and the entry in the Capitalization chapter (chapter 10.3.2).

1. Instructions for Authors. JAMA. Updated April 13, 2020. Accessed June 19, 2020.  https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/pages/instructions-for-authors#SecReportingRace/Ethnicity
2. Black and White: a matter of capitalization. CMOS Shop Talk. Posted June 22, 2020. Accessed June 22, 2020. https://cmosshoptalk.com/2020/06/22/black-and-white-a-matter-of-capitalization/
3. APA Style. Racial and ethnic identity. Accessed June 20, 2020. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/bias-free-language/racial-ethnic-minorities
4. AP Stylebook. Race-related coverage. Accessed June 22, 2020. https://www.apstylebook.com/race-related-coverage
5. Racial and ethnic categories and definitions for NIH diversity programs and for other reporting purposes. National Institutes of Health. Released April 8, 2015. Accessed June 20, 2020. https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not-od-15-089.html

July 3, 2020

Citation of preprints
In chapter, Preprints and Publication of Unedited Manuscripts, the first reference was updated to reflect clearer citation of a preprint manuscript, including removal of duplicative ID numbers and order of elements similar to other references.

May 28, 2020

Citation of data repositories
In chapter, Data Repository, the first reference in this section was updated to indicate that the original data source should be cited, not a subsequent journal reference. 

May 28, 2020

Citation of special departments, features, or columns 
In chapter 3.11.11, Special Department, Feature, or Column of a Journal, the last reference in this section was updated to remove extraneous qualifiers (“reviewers”) and information not included in the original citation.

May 28, 2020

Citation of published corrections
In chapter 3.11.14, Corrections, the language in this section was updated to indicate that the “published correction” language and additional citation does not need to be appended to the original article. The first reference was updated to reflect this change plus addition of the doi.

May 28, 2020

Citation of multimedia content
In chapter 3.14.4, Other Multimedia, the language in the second half of this section was updated to indicate that item being cited is what should be linked, and that citing the entire article in addition is not necessary. References 4 and 5 were updated to reflect this change.

May 28, 2020

Updates to hyphenation of prefixes
In chapter, Hyphen, Clarity, the term “re-sent” was added to the first box to distinguish it from the word “resent.” In the second box, the terms co-infected and co-infection were removed to reflect their entry in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary following the usual approach to close up words that begin with the prefix co-.

May 28, 2020

Updated use of mutation and variation
In various sections of chapter 14, Nomenclature, the term mutation was corrected to variation and in chapter 11.1, Correct and Preferred Usage, the term mutations was edited to sequence variations in the entry for “classic, classical” to be consistent with style policy as explained in chapter In addition, a note was added to chapter 14.2.5, Molecular Cancer Terminology, to allow use of the terms tumor mutation burden and mutation load.

May 28, 2020

Novel Coronavirus -- March 2020 update

In December 2019, an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus was identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

The AMA Manual of Style addresses coronavirus (CoV) in section 14.14.3, Virus Nomenclature, which includes information on Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). The World Health Organization has named the new disease coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).1 The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) Coronaviridae Study Group determined that the new virus belongs to the existing species severe acute respiratory syndrome–related coronavirus.2,3 Thus, the virus name has been proposed as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by the ICTV.

Table 14.14-10, Viruses of Humans, in Section 14.14.3 will be updated with the new virus along with a note at the beginning of section 14.14.3 to alert users to this addition.

Visit the JAMA Network Resource Center on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-2019) for reports of research, educational resources, and updates.


1.    World Health Organization. Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Situation Report-22.   Published February 11, 2020. Accessed February 12, 2020. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200211-sitrep-22-ncov.pdf

2.    International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. Naming the 2019 Coronavirus. Accessed February 26, 2020. https://talk.ictvonline.org/

3.    del Rio C, Malani PN. COVID-19—new insights on a rapidly changing epidemic. JAMA. Published online February 28, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.3072

March 3, 2020