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OASIS Writing Skills

Personal Communication

This guide includes information on APA style citations.


Personal communications may include private letters, memos, some electronic communications (like e-mails), personal interviews, and telephone conversations. Participant interviews in a doctoral capstone study, however, are treated differently from personal communication. For more information on citing interview transcript excerpts, see this APA blog post or the dissertation or doctoral study guidebooks on Walden’s student publications site. 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 asks that you always use the source's first initial and full last name, like this: J. Smith, K. Cho, or N. Ramachandran.

Even though this person might be a friend or someone 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.

Citing Your Personal Communication

In a parenthetical citation, use the words "personal communication" and the exact date that the personal communication occurred. Here is an example of a parenthetical citation of a personal communication:

Fruity candy is much better than chocolate (J. Smith, personal communication, October 10, 2010).

When referencing the source of your personal communication in text, however, you do not need to include the source's name in the parenthetical citation. Here is an example of an in text citation:

J. Smith proudly stated that fruity candy is much better than chocolate (personal communication, October 10, 2010).

Although you are required to cite personal communications whenever you are referencing information from that source, 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.

Knowledge Check: Personal Communication

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