Citing and referencing: Personal communication & confidential unpublished material

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

Personal communication & confidential unpublished material

The AMA Manual of Style Chapter 3.13.10 has further details about personal communications. Unpublished, confidential reports should be treated similarly. Do not confuse these types of materials with unpublished materials mentioned previously in Chapter 3.13.9.
General notes

Personal communication includes 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 access to the data is restricted due to confidentiality, they are cited in-text only; do not include an entry in the reference list. 

  • Obtain permission from the source before citing personal communications or information from a confidential document
  • To establish the relevance and authority of the communication, include the highest academic degree or the professional affiliation of the person being cited
  • The citation must include the name of the person communicating, their qualifications or affiliations, the type of communication, and the date.


In email correspondence, it was confirmed that previously detected inconsistencies had been resolved (L.Thomas, MD, email communication, February 8, 2021).

… there was no acute infarct seen (P. Wong, MBBS, radiology report, March 6, 2022).

According to the manufacturer (H. E. Lim, PhD, Pharma Global, internal company document, June 23, 2022), the immunisation will...

In a letter from M. Smith, MD on February 8, 2020, it was suggested...