The purpose of a reference list in APA Style® is to acknowledge the work of previous scholars and provide a reliable way to locate that work.
What if you want to acknowledge a source that can’t be retrieved, such as a conversation, live lecture, or private letter?
This information should be treated as a personal communication, which is cited in the body of the paper but not included in the reference list.
You can cite a personal communication in your APA Style CENTRAL® paper by clicking the Personal Communication button in the editor menu or selecting from the Insert menu.
Once you provide the information needed—the individual’s name and the date of communication—the citation will appear in the paper body, including the words personal communication.
Because personal communications can’t be retrieved by a reader, they are not included in the reference listIn APA Style CENTRAL, you can edit personal communication in the body of your paper, as you would any other text.
- Research interviews with participants are NOT considered personal communication; they are qualitative data and should be reported in a way that respects confidentiality. For more, see this post on the APA Style blog.
- If the communication was shared with you personally but is now retrievable—the conversation is on a discussion board, the lecture can be found on YouTube or a podcast, or the letter is published in a periodical or book—you can treat it as any other reference (i.e., create a reference to that retrievable source).
For more information, see the APA Style CENTRAL quick guide “Personal Communications.”
APA Style Blog: What Belongs in the Reference List?
APA Style Blog: How to Cite a Class in APA Style
APA Style Blog: Let’s Talk About Research Participants