Download a Word
document version of the style guide here
Follow the AMA Style Guide and the Chicago Manual of Style
For most style points, you can use these sources as a
guideline. In cases of conflict between the two, defer to the AMA
preference. Please read below for exceptions and
Rewrite his/her and sentences with awkward commas
When sentences arise that require a pronoun, such as "his" or the more modern
"his or hers," rewrite the entire sentence so that it no longer requires a
pronoun. The same procedure applies to sentences, usually long and bulky ones,
with awkward commas. Rewrite these or divide them into shorter sentences.
Many of your
flashcards will ask questions that are complete sentences beginning with a capital letter
and ending with a question mark. Answers to this form of question
usually should not be complete sentences, but they should be
consistent with good grammar. An appropriate but incomplete sentence
is called an elliptical
sentence. Examples are dictionary definitions
or remarks in a screenplay. Elliptical sentences must begin with
a capital letter and end with a period. An elliptical
sentence can be a single word, e.g. "Four." The training
program covers elliptical sentences.
Fill in the Blank
You can also use
fill-in-the-blank flashcards that should end with a period.
Q: DNA is stored in the cell _______.
Here no punctuation is required in the answer. Inserting "nucleus" back into
the sentence will make it grammatically correct: DNA is stored in the cell
nucleus. If the
answer is the first word in the question's sentence, it should be
consistency, use seven underscores in the blank, regardless of the
length of the answer. ALWAYS Use one blank, even though the answer
requires several words. Never write a flashcard with more than one
blank. The question with the answer filled in
should be a complete, grammatically correct sentence.
Fill-ins can use
hints. Click here for examples of this type
Here is a shortcut to making blanks: Use only one underscore for
each blank. When you have finished making all flashcards for the
subtopic, use Microsoft Word's Find and Replace All to quickly
change all the single underscores to the same seven space length we
require. In the Find What box, enter _ and in the Replace With box
Note that this will only work if ALL the
blanks are only one underscore long. If you are going back and
editing a file, doing this with blanks that are already seven
underscores long will result in Word replacing EACH underscore with
seven underscores. You would then have blanks that are 49 spaces
Do NOT write True/false
or Yes/No Flashcards
Please read the section on hints for ideas
about how to write flashcards without true/false.
Do NOT write any flashcards where the question is in
a 50/50 form
A question should not give two options, such as either x or y.
This is not much different than true/false. The student should not be allowed to
guess by seeing the correct answer somewhere in the question. Thematically,
flashcards should always have the fragment of information to be tested for on
the answer side of the card. If the fragment appears somewhere in the question
the student is not getting adequate study. Please
visit this page for a list of examples.
expressions, including abbreviations, should immediately follow the
text that they reference such as: What is
In general, if you use a number between 0 and 10, spell it out: four. This means
spell all ordinals from one to nine (0 and 10 should not be spelled out).
Of course, there are exceptions:
Do not spell out measurements (14 oz, for example).
Do not spell out other noun modifiers (such as 45 years old). In this case, "45"
modifies the noun "years," and should remain in digit form.
Do not spell out measurements of time (17 hours, for example).
Do not spell out numbers for any math problems, fractions, or decimals.
Use numbers for ranges, such as 67 through 79.
Use numbers and the symbol for percentages unless at the start of the sentence (39% in a sentence and Thirty-nine
percent if starting a sentence).
Spell out any numbers beginning a sentence. If this is a large bulky number,
such as 1,290,551, rewrite the sentence so it is not at the front.
Do not use numerals for consecutive numbers. Example: Write "The study consisted
of five 40 year old males" NOT "The study consisted of 5 40 year old
Please click here to read a page devoted to
stylistic rules of italics.
Any word part or syllable in derivations, or any word or
syllable used as an example goes in quotes; nothing
else does. Quotes are not used around the meanings. For usage of quotes around
words used as an example, this is largely at the discretion of the
author. Generally, if a sentence would be confusing without singling
a word or phrase out with quotes, then the quotes are needed.
Do not use three
periods at the end of a sentence, or an ellipsis (...). Use blanks
instead, as described above.
Precede noun answers with "The."
The thalamus, hypothalamus, epithalamus and subthalamus are part of
what structure? Diencephalon. This is incorrect.
The grammatically correct answer is: The diencephalon.
There is a trick you can use in your head to figure out if you
need "the." In your mind, make your answer into a complete sentence:
The thalamus, hypothalamus, epithalamus and subthalamus
are part of diencephalon.
After putting this into a longer sentence, you can easily see it is
incorrect. The correct longer sentence is: The
thalamus, hypothalamus, epithalamus and subthalamus are part of
Since the longer sentence requires "the," you will need it in the
shorter elliptical form: The diencephalon.
One more example:
Which system maintains posture and equilibrium
and coordinates head and eye movements?
To see why this is wrong, put your answer into a longer sentence:
maintains posture and equilibrium and coordinates head and eye
After doing so, you can easily see the sentence is grammatically
incorrect, and should start with "the":
The vestibular system maintains posture and
equilibrium and coordinates head and eye movements.
However, you need to keep it elliptical, so the correct answer is:
The vestibular system.
To summarize: If you don’t know if you need "the," put your sentence
into a longer form and see if it makes sense. This trick also works
to see if you need "a."
Pay attention to your spellchecker.
Words like "latin" and "greek" will be underlined in
red because they should be capitalized. Your spellchecker won't
automatically find medical terms. To set Word up to recognize
medical terms, use Dorland's or Stedman's
as the default custom dictionary.
Click here for instructions.
You may also download free word lists. Visit our page of instructions and
links to the wordlists by clicking here.
For more, please continue on to our
grammar tutorial. This covers the basic rules of grammar.
You can find useful examples
of flashcard errors here from the perspective of our editors. This will
give you more insight into what we expect from flashcard authors.