Answered By: Theresa Bell
Last Updated: Dec 05, 2017     Views: 19631

Personal communication does not provide recoverable data within the public domain (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 179), which means that since your reader wasn't there for the event (e.g., phone call, conversation, lecture) or he or she doesn't have the necessary access permissions (e.g., email, password-protected discussion forum posting, information retrieved from an intranet), the information isn't available. Since the information isn't retrievable, the resource is only cited within the text but not in the reference list (p. 179).

When citing personal communication, provide the first initial and last name of your contact or the group/corporate name, “personal communication”, and the date the communication took place (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 179). In the case of a published resource that isn't publicly available, use the publication date of the resource versus the date you accessed the material. It is unnecessary to specify the type of communication within your citation or to provide a page or paragraph number. For example, "quoted text" (J. Greenwood, personal communication, January 15, 2004), or J. Greenwood (personal communication, January 15, 2004) stated that, "quoted text". 

Please note that if you conducted an interview as part of your original research, information gained from that interview isn't usually cited as personal communication but rather is given an attribution because the information wasn't previously published elsewhere. Please see "How do I cite my original research results?" for more information.


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.