Citing and referencing: Personal communications

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

Personal communications

Before using this guide check with your faculty, school or department for their specific referencing guidelines

Important Note: Check with your lecturer first to see if these type of resources are acceptable for use.

Personal communications usually take the form of a conversation, a letter, or an email. They are generally unpublished and not usually acceptable as a reference. However, if their content is very important in the context of your work, they may included. It is recommended that permission be sought from the source or party to the conversation if you wish to include quotes in your text.

Personal communications are cited within the text but are not included in the reference list, unless they are publicly available in an archive or repository.

Personal communication in the text of your document should include:

  • Date of communication.
  • Type of communication - oral, written or email (include email address).
  • If appropriate, the affiliation of the correspondent to a University or organisation.


  • In a conversation with J. T. Marsh, MD (March 2013) ...


  • According to a letter by T. B. Patterson (Assoc. Prof., Dept of Microbiology, Monash University) in September 2012 ...
  • According to M. J. Beach, PhD (written communication, August 2011) ...


  • In an email from X. Rogers, PhD ( in July 2012 ...

Reference examples of personal communications that may be available publicly via an archive or repository


  • Anfinson, Christina B. (Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD). Letter to: Cyril Ponnamperuma (University of Maryland, College Park, MD). 1991 Apr 23. 1 leaf. Located at: History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD; MS C 496, Box 8, Folder 3.
  • Cowan, Henry. Letter to: Edward Brown Addis (Port Phillip District, Geelong, AU). 1845 Feb 27. 2 leaves. Located at: Victorian Archives Centre, North Melbourne, AU. VPRS 19, P0001, Bundle 1845/0586, File 24/476.


Source for this example:

Patrias K. Citing medicine: the NLM style guide for authors, editors, and publishers [Internet]. 2nd ed. Wendling DL, technical editor. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2007 [updated 2009 Oct 21]. Available from: