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APA Citation Guide (7th edition) : Personal Communication (Interviews, Emails)

When Is "Personal Communications" Used In Citation?

The category "Personal Communications" is used only when a recoverable source of information is not available (the conversation has not been published somewhere). For example, use personal communications in situations where you are citing from: 

  • personal emails
  • text messages
  • online chats or direct messages
  • personal interviews
  • telephone conversations
  • live, unrecorded speeches
  • nonarchived social media livestreams (e.g., Instagram Live)

If a person is quoted in a published article or a conversation is shared and accessible online (for example in a public tweet or instagram post), cite the source where you found the information. 

For conversations and information shared with you by Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers, CapU Library recommends providing a reference list citation. 

Interviews and Email

Note: Interviews and e-mail are considered personal communications in APA style. They are cited within the text of your assignment, but do not get an entry in the Reference list at the end. Put the citation right after a quote or paraphrased content from the interview or e-mail.

(First Initial of Person Who Was Interviewed or who sent the email. Second Initial if known. Last Name, personal communication, Month Day, Year interview took place or email was received)


"Infections are often contracted while patients are recovering in the hospital" (J. D. Black, personal communication, May 30, 2013)


Note: If the name of the person who was interviewed is mentioned in the sentence leading into the quote or paraphrased content, you do not need to repeat it in the in-text citation.

J. D. Black explained that "infections are often contracted while patients are recovering in the hospital" (personal communication, May 30, 2013).


Note: Published interviews can appear in many types of sources (magazines, newspapers, etc.). When citing published interviews, follow the guidelines for the type of source it was published in.

Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers

Unlike other personal communications, Elders and Knowledge Keepers should be cited in-text and in the reference list.

‚ÄčLast name, First names initials. (Elder), Nation/Community. Topic/subject of communication if applicable. personal communication. Year, Month Date. Territory Acknowledgement of where information was shared/collected.

Reference List Example

‚ÄčLekeyten (Elder), Kwantlen First Nation. Community justice. personal communication. 2019, April 4. Shared on the traditional unceded territory of the Kwantlen, Musqueam, Katzie, Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen, Qayqayt and Kwikwetlem Peoples.

In-Text Citation Example

(Lekeyten, 2019). 

  Note: If you would like to approach an Elder or Knowledge Keeper for teachings, remember to follow protocol or if you are unsure what their protocol is, please ask them ahead of time.

Capilano University recognizes the Universities and Colleges that have contributed to the most used citation styles. Norquest College has developed the following citation styles in the spirit of wahkôhtowin and reconciliation, and is thanked for sharing their template for MLA and APA styles. Kwantlen University added a few elements as recommended by their Elder in Residence Lekeyten. Kwantlen University has also made additions to the Norquest College guide which are noted in red text. Kwantlen University collaborated with the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University to adapt a Chicago citation style.