Harvard Referencing: Personal communications

Basic format to reference personal communications

The basics of an in-text entry for personal communications:

  • Author (communicator).
  • Year.
  • Format description.
  • Day.
  • Month.


The Vice Chancellor's statement was confirmed during an interview (P Dawkins  2011, personal communication, 11 October).


 During an interview conducted on 11 October 2011, Prof Peter Dawkins stated that …

 Please note:

  • Personal Communications include private letters, memos, emails from unarchived sources, personal interviews, telephone conversations, and similar resources. As these sources do not provide recoverable data, Personal Communications are not included in the Reference List.
  • Cite Personal Communications in-text only.
  • Details can be provided in running text or in parentheses.
  • In your in-text citation of a Personal Communication give the initials as well as the surname of the communicator, and provide as exact a date as possible.
  • Note that the initials precede the family name in the parenthetical citation.
  • Use your judgment in citing other electronic forms, like Twitter or SMS Texts, as Personal Communications. Remember that what you cite should have scholarly relevance.
  • Refer to Multi-media materials in this guide for an example of citing a Twitter or Facebook post.

Referencing personal communications: Examples

Material Type In-Text Example Reference List Examples

An email (JW Ayers 2018, personal communication, 2 February) confirming that results are accurate ...

You do not need to include an entry in the reference list.

During an interview conducted on 6 June 2018, Prof Helena Moore stated that …
The Professor’s statement was confirmed during an interview (H Moore 2018, personal communication, 6 June)

You do not need to include an entry in the reference list if you conducted the interview.

For interviews conducted by another person or using different media, please refer to the page on multi-media formats in this guide.


In a letter dated 17 May 2018, Ben Smith stated that...
Ben Smith expressed sincere regret in his letter (B Smith 2018, personal communication, 17 May).

You do not need to include an entry in the reference list.



Telephone call

During a phone interview conducted on 11 March 2018, Professor Sam Smith stated that...
The company president’s statement was confirmed during a phone interview (P Clinton 2018, personal communication, 20 February).

You do not need to include an entry in the reference list.