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Communication: APA Personal communication

Communication is a broad area and opens the door to a variety of careers, depending on your preferences and skills.

Personal Communication

As personal communication is not recoverable or archived, it is not included in a reference list, but is acknowledged in-text. Personal communication might include private letters, tutor comments, your own class notes, interviews, telephone conversations, intranet documents, social media, etc. Use the initials and surname of the person with whom you corresponded (or the organisation's name) and as exact a date as possible.


In-text citations

K. W. Wiremu (personal communication, January 18, 2010) commented in his interview that...

...(K. W. Wiremu, personal communication, January 18, 2010). 

Narrative in-text citation within a paragraph

According to Learn and Grow's Early Childhood Centre Policy (personal communication, March 9, 2020), the centre has a strong mandate for ensuring enrolments are inclusive.

Parenthetical in-text citation within a paragraph

"The centre must ensure that children of all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds are considered for enrolment" (Learn and Grow, personal communication, March 9, 2020).

Traditional Knowledge

If you need to reference Traditional Knowledge found in a recoverable source (a book or a website, for example), reference it in the correct format for that type source. See here for a definition of a non-recoverable source (personal communication).

If you have researched Traditional Knowledge by speaking to someone, provide the person's full name and the name of the indigenous group they belong to if known (iwi or haapu, for example), as well as their location or other details as relevant, followed by the words "personal communication", and the date of the communication. Ensure the person agrees to have their name included in your assignment and confirms the accuracy and appropriateness of the information you present.

You do not need to provide a reference list entry.


Narrative in-text citation within a paragraph

I spoke with Mihiwai Taylor (Tainui, from Hamilton, New Zealand, personal communication, April 2021) about Tainui's traditional understandings of the world. She described...

Parenthetical in-text citation within a paragraph

"Tainui's understanding of ..." (Mihiwai Taylor, Tainui, from Hamilton, New Zealand, personal communication, April 2021).


If you are an indigenous person and are sharing your own experiences or the previously unrecorded Traditional Knowledge or Oral Tradition of your people, describe yourself in the text (e.g. what iwi or haapu you belong to, where you live or where you are from) to contextualise the origin of the information you are sharing.

You do not need to use a personal communication citation or provide a reference list entry because you do not need to cite personal information.

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