Make sure your title uses the correct style

When it comes to the style or grammar of titles used in academic articles and dissertations, there is a lot of variation. As a result, this article sets out the various styles used when creating titles, as proposed by the major style guides: the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Modern Languages Association (MLA). Generally speaking, the AMA style is used by students in Medicine and the Sciences; the APA style is geared towards the Social Sciences and Psychology; whilst the MLA style is used in the Liberal Arts and Humanities.

To see the basics of each style when creating a title, such as when to use capitalisation in a title, the grammar of title, and other rules, choose from the styles below. To know more about the styles, we have provided links at the end of the article to Amazon where they can be purchased.

American Medication Association (AMA) style, 10th edition

To our knowledge, the AMA style does not distinguish between titles for articles as a whole and dissertations. As such, we have based this style guide on the requirements for titles set out by the AMA style guide, 10th edition. The main considerations when writing your dissertation title from a style perspective are: (a) capitalisation in titles and subtitles; (b) quotation marks; (c) city, county, state, province, country names; (d) numbers; (e) abbreviation; (f) drugs; and (g) genus and species. Each of these considerations is present below with associated examples:

If the AMA Manual of Style, 10th edition, is not in your university library, it can be purchased on Amazon for around £34/US$73/CDN$67. It is a very comprehensive guide to the AMA style.


Abrahm, J.L., Banffy, M.B. and Harris, M.B. (2008) Spinal Cord Compression in Patients With Advanced Metastatic Cancer: "All I Care About Is Walking and Living My Life", JAMA, 299(8): 937-946.

Andriole, D.A., Whelan, A.J. and Jeffe, D.B. (2008) Characteristics and Career Intentions of the Emerging MD/PhD Workforce, JAMA, 300(10): 1165-1173.

Bach, P.B. (2009) Smoking as a Factor in Causing Lung Cancer, JAMA, 301(5): 539-541.

Bendavid, E. and Miller, G. (2010) The US Global Health Initiative: Informing Policy With Evidence, JAMA, 304(7): 791-792.

Bilukha, O.O., Brennan, M. and Anderson, M. (2007) Injuries and Deaths From Landmines and Unexploded Ordnance in Afghanistan, 2002-2006, JAMA, 298: 516-518.

Brook, R.H. (2010) Physician Compensation, Cost, and Quality, JAMA, 304(7): 795-796.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2006) Postmarketing Monitoring of Intussusception After RotaTeqTM Vaccination, United States, February 1, 2006-February 15, 2007, JAMA, 297(18): 1972-1976.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2007) Emergence of Antimicrobial-Resistant Serotype 19A Streptococcus pneumoniae, Massachusetts, 2001-2006, JAMA, 298(22): 2612-2614.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009) Outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes Infections Associated With Pasteurized Milk From a Local Dairy, Massachusetts, 2007, JAMA, 301(8): 820-822.

Douglas, J.M., Jr. (2009) Penicillin Treatment of Syphilis: Clearing Away the Shadow on the Land, JAMA, 301(7): 769-771.

Eagen, K. (2007) Becoming a Doctor: Reflections of First-Year Medical Students, JAMA, 298(9): 1067-1068.

Friedman, A.H. (2009) Tamsulosin and the Intraoperative Floppy Iris Syndrome, JAMA, 301(19): 2044-2045.

Harbarth, S., Fankhauser, C., Schrenzel, J., Christenson, J., Gervaz, P., Bandiera-Clerc, C., Renzi, G., Vernaz, N., Sax, H. and Pittet, D. (2008) Universal Screening for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus at Hospital Admission and Nosocomial Infection in Surgical Patients, JAMA, 299(10): 1149-1157.

Harvey, J.C. (2008) The Uncertain Art: Thoughts on a Life in Medicine, JAMA, 300(10): 1213-1214.

Holmes, C.B., Coggin, W., Jamieson, D., Mihm, H., Granich, R., Savio, R., Hope, M., Ryan, C., Moloney-Kitts, M., Goosby, E.P. and Dybul, M. (2010) Use of Generic Antiretroviral Agents and Cost Savings in PEPFAR Treatment Programs, JAMA, 304(3): 313-320.

Khattri, S. (2009) Treadmill Exercise or Resistance Training in Patients With Peripheral Arterial Disease, JAMA, 301(19): 1986.

Lamb, H.R. and Weinberger, L.E. (2008) Mental Health Courts as a Way to Provide Treatment to Violent Persons With Severe Mental Illness, JAMA, 300(6): 722-724.

Miller, A. (2009) Asthma Following the 2001 World Trade Center Attack, JAMA, 302(21): 2319.

Pearson, T.A. and Manolio, T.A. (2008) How to Interpret a Genome-wide Association Study, JAMA, 299(11): 1335-1344.

Plebani, M. and Basso, D. (2010) Diagnostic Testing for Celiac Disease, JAMA, 304(6): 639.

Psaty, B.M. and Prentice, R.L. (2010) Minimizing Bias in Randomized Trials: The Importance of Blinding, JAMA, 304(7): 793-794.

Pujades-Rodríguez, M., Balkan, S., Arnould, L., Brinkhof, M.A.W. and Calmy, A. (2010) Treatment Failure and Mortality Factors in Patients Receiving Second-Line HIV Therapy in Resource-Limited Countries, JAMA, 304(3): 303-312.

Reuben, D.B. (2010) Medical Care for the Final Years of Life: "When You're 83, It's Not Going to Be 20 Years", JAMA, 302(24): 2686-2694.

Shargorodsky, J. Curhan, S.G., Curhan, G.C. and Eavey, R. (2010) Change in Prevalence of Hearing Loss in US Adolescents, JAMA, 304(7): 772-778.

Sonis, J., Gibson, J.L.., de Jong, J.T.V.M., Field, N.P., Hean, S. and Komproe, I. (2009) Probable Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Disability in Cambodia: Associations With Perceived Justice, Desire for Revenge, and Attitudes Toward the Khmer Rouge Trials, JAMA, 302(5): 527-536.

Thombs, B.D. (2010) Traumatic Brain Injury and Major Depressive Disorder, JAMA, 304(8): 857.

Wunsch, H., Guerra, C., Barnato, A.E., Angus, D.C., Li, G. and Linde-Zwirble, W.T. (2010) Three-Year Outcomes for Medicare Beneficiaries Who Survive Intensive Care, JAMA, 303(9): 849-856.

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