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APA Citations (7th ed.): Personal Communications

This guide will help you learn how to properly cite sources in APA style and how to avoid plagiarism.

What are Personal Communications?

Works that cannot be recovered by readers (i.e., works without a source element) are cited in the text as personal communications.

Personal communications may include:

  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Online chats or direct messages
  • Personal interviews
  • Telephone conversations
  • Live Speeches
  • Unrecorded classroom lectures
  • Memos
  • Letters
  • Messages from nonarchived discussion groups
    or online bulletin boards

How to Cite Personal Communications

Personal communications are not included in the reference list; they are cited in the text only.

Give the initial(s) and surname of the communicator, and provide as exact a date as possible.

In-text citation:

     (A. Sutton, personal communication, January 14, 2019)

Citing Traditional Knowledge or Oral Traditions of Indigenous Peoples

If Traditional Knowledge or Oral Traditions of Indigenous Peoples can be recovered by readers (e.g., video, audio, interview transcript, book, article), cite it in the text and include a reference list entry in the correct format for that type of source.

In-text citation:

     (King, 1971)


If these types of sources are not recoverable by readers, provide as much detail in the in-text citation as is necessary to describe the content and to contextualize the origin of the information. If you spoke with an Indigenous person directly, follow the personal communication in-text citation with the person's full name, the nation or specific Indigenous group to which they belong, as well as their location and other relevant information, followed by "personal communication" and the date. No reference entry is included.

In-text citation:

     (Sarah Grant, Great Sioux Nation, lives in Yankton, SD, personal communication, May 8, 2004)


To learn more about citing these types of sources, see pp. 260-261 in the manual.