How to format your references using the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) (CMAJ). For a complete guide how to prepare your manuscript refer to the journal's instructions to authors.

Using reference management software

Typically you don't format your citations and bibliography by hand. The easiest way is to use a reference manager:

PaperpileThe citation style is built in and you can choose it in Settings > Citation Style or Paperpile > Citation Style in Google Docs.
EndNoteFind the style here: output styles overview
Mendeley, Zotero, Papers, and othersThe style is either built in or you can download a CSL file that is supported by most references management programs.
BibTeXBibTeX syles are usually part of a LaTeX template. Check the instructions to authors if the publisher offers a LaTeX template for this journal.

Journal articles

Those examples are references to articles in scholarly journals and how they are supposed to appear in your bibliography.

Not all journals organize their published articles in volumes and issues, so these fields are optional. Some electronic journals do not provide a page range, but instead list an article identifier. In a case like this it's safe to use the article identifier instead of the page range.

A journal article with 1 author
Ostrom E. A general framework for analyzing sustainability of social-ecological systems. Science. 2009 Jul 24;325(5939):419–22.
A journal article with 2 authors
Klett EL, Patel SB. Biomedicine. Will the real cholesterol transporter please stand up. Science. 2004 Feb 20;303(5661):1149–50.
A journal article with 3 authors
McElwain JC, Wagner PJ, Hesselbo SP. Fossil plant relative abundances indicate sudden loss of Late Triassic biodiversity in East Greenland. Science. 2009 Jun 19;324(5934):1554–6.
A journal article with 7 or more authors
Rivière S, Challet L, Fluegge D, Spehr M, Rodriguez I. Formyl peptide receptor-like proteins are a novel family of vomeronasal chemosensors. Nature. 2009 May 28;459(7246):574–7.

Books and book chapters

Here are examples of references for authored and edited books as well as book chapters.

An authored book
Morrison TJ. Functional Analysis. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2000.
An edited book
Biskup J, López J, editors. Computer Security – ESORICS 2007: 12th European Symposium On Research In Computer Security, Dresden, Germany, September 24 — 26, 2007. Proceedings. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer; 2007. XIV, 628 p. (Lecture Notes in Computer Science; vol. 4734).
A chapter in an edited book
Grabherr S, Cadas H, Riederer BM, Charlier P, Djonov V. Postmortem Angiography: A Historical Review. In: Grabherr S, Grimm JM, Heinemann A, editors. Atlas of Postmortem Angiography. Cham: Springer International Publishing; 2016. p. 53–70.

Web sites

Sometimes references to web sites should appear directly in the text rather than in the bibliography. Refer to the Instructions to authors for CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Blog post
Andrew E. Vanity And Predatory Academic Publishers Are Corrupting The Pursuit Of Knowledge [Internet]. IFLScience. IFLScience; 2015 [cited 2018 Oct 30]. Available from:


This example shows the general structure used for government reports, technical reports, and scientific reports. If you can't locate the report number then it might be better to cite the report as a book. For reports it is usually not individual people that are credited as authors, but a governmental department or agency like "U. S. Food and Drug Administration" or "National Cancer Institute".

Government report
Government Accountability Office. Governmentwide Initiatives: Critical Issues Facing the Post-FTS 2000 Program. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1995 Mar. Report No.: T-AIMD-95-108.

Theses and dissertations

Theses including Ph.D. dissertations, Master's theses or Bachelor theses follow the basic format outlined below.

Doctoral dissertation
Yamada T. Comparison of cognitively diagnostic adaptive testing algorithms [Doctoral dissertation]. [New York, NY]: Columbia University; 2008.

News paper articles

Unlike scholarly journals, news papers do not usually have a volume and issue number. Instead, the full date and page number is required for a correct reference.

New York Times article
Vizard MM. In the Region /Westchester; Avalon Joins New Roc City for New Rochelle Revival. New York Times. 1999 Oct 31;1111.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by sequential numbers in parentheses:

This sentence cites one reference (1).
This sentence cites two references (1,2).
This sentence cites four references (1–4).

About the journal

Full journal titleCMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)
ISSN (print)0820-3946
ISSN (online)1488-2329
ScopeGeneral Medicine

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