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APA (7th ed.), Citation Style: Citing Personal Communications

Citing Personal Communications

Not all of your sources will come from books, journals, newspapers, etc.  Some of them will consist of personal communications, or personal conversations, emails, class lectures, performance art, or research interviews.  Cite personal communications only in the text,  give the initials as well as the surname of the communicator, and provide the exact date if possible (see APA, section 8.9, p. 260).

Personal Communication Example

Narrative Citation: According to S. Brown (personal communication, July 22, 2012), the statistics class is full.

Parenthetical Citation: The statistics class is full (S. Brown, personal communication, July 22, 2012).

If the personal communication is recoverable, then the source should be cited as an archived material and be in the reference list.



Research Interviews (see Section 8.36, p. 278).

Though most personal communications include the communicators first initial and surname, in the case of research interviewees, the participant's identity must remain anonymous for ethical reasons.  As a result, you should not include any identifying information.  Here are some ways to keep your participants anonymous:

  • Do not provide any identifying information:

Observations by one of the students interviews draws more attention to the initial problem: [Insert quote without other attributions]

  • Identify the participant by age or some other type of data:

"The experience was different and exhausting (male participant, 43 years of age)."

"In retrospect, I would have spent more time with the research librarian (female psychology student)."

  • Use letters, nicknames, or roles to identify participants

    Student A, Student B;   Participant A, Participant B

    John, Mary

    Doctor, Patient; Librarian, Patron; Teacher, Student