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Citation Help for APA, 7th Edition: Personal Communication (email, interviews, lectures, course materials, etc.)

Help with common issues and questions with APA 7th edition


Two people sitting in chairs having a conversationWhat is personal communication?

Personal communication is any source that cannot be recovered by a reader. This type of sources includes email, text messages, interviews, phone or in-person conversations, live speeches or webinars, messages on non-archived discussion boards or online bulletin boards, personal voicemail, unrecorded or live course lectures, social media limited to "Friends" only or restricted, and other sources that are similar in nature. 

Personal communication can also be sources that have not been formally published or sources that are available only to a certain population (e.g., resources available to employees in a company's intranet, training documents, etc.). In cases like these, be sure to consider the audience. If the document will be formally published to the general public, then these items should be treated as personal communication. On the other hand, if the document will have an audience who has access to items, then these may be referenced as discussed in Section 8.8 on page 259 of the APA Manual, 7th edition.


Personal Communication


Examples of personal communication include conversations, email, text messages, online chats or direct messages, personal interviews, telephone conversations, live speeches, unrecorded course lectures, memos, letters, messages from non-archived discussion groups or online bulletin boards, social media shared with "Friends" only, etc. 

Personal Communication Explanation

Because personal communication cannot be recovered, only cite personal communication within the text of the paper. Do not include a reference within the reference list. Only include references in the reference list for sources that can be found or located by the reader. To cite personal communication, list the initials and last name of the communicator, the words "personal communication," and as exact a date as possible. 

Citation Examples

Parenthetical Citation Example:

(G. Christner, personal communication, January 12, 2020)

Narrative Citation Example: 

G. Christner (personal communication, January 12, 2020) stressed .....

More Information


For more information about personal communication, see Section 8.9 on pages 260-261 of the APA Manual, 7th edition. 


Type of Interviews

What type of interview is it, and how do I reference it?


APA recognizes that interviews can be classified into 3 broad categories. 

  • Published Interviews - this type of interview is published in print (e.g., magazine, journal, newspaper), heard on radio or podcasts, or found in video (e.g., YouTube, DVD). In these cases, the source that published the interview can be easily tracked down; therefore, create a reference based on the source that published the interview using the examples in Chapter 10 of the APA Manual, 7th edition.
  • Personal Interviews - this type of interview is conducted to find out specific information for a paper or project. The interview may be an email, phone conversation, or in person. In these cases, the interview cannot be recovered by the reader; therefore, the interview should be cited as personal communication.
  • Research Participant Interviews - this type of interview occurs during the course of a study and is part of the methodology of the study. The interviews may be an individual interview, a focus group, or a group interview. In these cases, you will be sharing the findings in your research paper; however, do not cite the information. APA points out that you cite your own work in the paper in which it is first being shared or reported. Instead, follow the guidelines in Section 8.36 on page 278 of the APA Manual. 

Additional Resources

Quotation from Research Participants - Created by APA - provides guidance on quotes from research participants.

More Information

For more information about interviews, see Section 8.7 on page 259 of the APA Manual, 7th edition.