A. One Author or EditorB. Two Authors or EditorsC. Three to Five Authors or EditorsD. Chapter in an Edited Book or TextbookE. Entry in a dictionary or encyclopediaF. No AuthorG. E-BookH. Edition other than the FirstI. TranslationJ. Government Publication
A. Journal Article with One AuthorB. Journal Article with Two AuthorsC. Journal Article with 3 - 6 AuthorsD. Journal Article with more than 7 authorsE. Magazine ArticleF. Newspaper ArticleG. Article from a DatabaseH. Google Scholar
A. Basic Web PageB. University / College WebpageC. No AuthorD. Blog postE. Online Reference EntryF. Online Government DocumentG. Document from a WebsiteH. Wikis
A. Motion PictureB. YouTube VideoC. Podcast
A. Electronic ImageB. FiguresC. Photographs and Maps
A. InterviewB. EmailC. Religious and Classical WorksD. Secondary SourcesE. Lectures / Course MaterialsF. Archival WorksG. Tweets & FacebookH. Personal Communication
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H. Personal Communication Print Page

About Personal Communication

Not all of your sources will come from books, journals, newspapers, or electronic sources. Some of the sources you use will be personal communications, or personal conversations, emails, class lectures, performance art, or research interviews.

Cite personal communications only in the text, providing the initials and surname of the communicator, and provide the exact date if possible.  For more details see APA, section 6.20, p. 179 or the  APA Style Blog, "What Belongs in the Reference List?".



Personal communications include private letters, memos, some electronic communications (e-mails), personal interviews, and telephone conversations.

The defining characteristic of a personal communication is that it does not provide recoverable data. For example, when you are conducting a personal interview, the reader would never be able to access a transcript of that interview.

When you are citing a personal communication in-text, APA guidelines are that you always use the source's first initial and full last name, like this: J. Steward, A. Kishimoto, or M. Lamb.

Regardless if this is a person you know personally, APA still requires you to use the person's first initial and full last name.

This rule applies to every instance where you use the source's name in your paper.

Personal communications should not be included in your references list. Instead, when you cite a personal communication, the exact date of when this personal communication occurred is sufficient information for the reader.


Personal Communication

Personal Conversation, email, interview, private letter, telephone or Skype conversation:

In-text format:

According to S. Thompson, (personal communication, March 22, 1998), the germination of heritage tomato seeds was less than 16% of those planted.

The planting of heritage tomato seeds failed to germinate more than 16% of total seeds planted (S. Thompson, personal communication, March 22, 1998).

 Do not include your source in the Reference list.

Learn More

The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University offers an online resource which can be used in some cases.  However, it does not include everything required for citing sources in one place.

The APA citation style does not cover Canadian government sources, and has only a limited section on American government resources.

Please refer to the staff at the Library Reference Desk for clarification when citing Canadian government sources.


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