Citing and referencing: Personal communications

A guide to the styles recommended by Monash schools and departments for students and researchers

Personal communication and confidential unpublished material

Personal communication may include materials such as emails from unarchived sources, private memos or unrecorded interview conversations. Confidential material may include medical charts, patient health records and other internal reports containing private information. As these sources do not provide recoverable data, or the data is restricted in access due to confidentiality, it is acceptable to cite these types of sources in-text only. 

The initials precede the family name in the citation. Don’t include an entry in the reference list.


Before paraphrasing or citing from a confidential document, ensure that you have the necessary permissions to do so from the source.


Rule: A Author, Personal Communication or Type of Confidential Unpublished Material, Day Month Year.


Example: M Smith (personal communication, 8 February 2020) wrote ...

Example: In their email correspondence it was confirmed that previously detected inconsistencies had been resolved (M Smith, personal communication, 8 February 2020).

Example: The radiologist's findings were further confirmed (P Alan, radiology report, 6 March 2021) …

Example: … there was no acute infarct seen (P Alan, radiology report, 6 March 2021).