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APA - Referencing Guide

Citing Personal Communications

Citing Personal Communications

Personal communications include letters, memos, personal interviews, telephone conversations, emails, text messages, online chats, messages from discussion lists and electronic bulletin boards.

Citations for this type of material are not included in the reference list because they do not contain recoverable data. Cite personal communications in the text only. Adding "personal communication" to the citation within the text is a useful indicator of the kind of information under discussion.

Give the initials as well as the surname of the communicator and provide as exact a date as possible:

M. Day (personal communication, July 30, 2000) finds the film meets several criteria ...

Professor Lutes in an email to the author gave details of his clinical experience with this treatment (T. K. Lutes, personal communication, April 18, 2001).

Citing ChatGPT as 'Personal Communications'

If the text that ChatGPT generates is not retrievable or sharable, then it falls into our catch-all “personal communication” category, where you cite with an in-text only citation: “(OpenAI, personal communication, January 16, 2023).” 

Consider making the ChatGPT conversation retrievable by including the text as an appendix or as online supplemental material.

If you do so, then readers may be referred to the appendix or the online supplemental material (where the ChatGPT response may be contextualized) when the ChatGPT conversation is cited. It would be good practice to describe, in the narrative or a note, the prompt that generated the specific ChatGPT response. This too will help inform the understanding of the technology and its outputs.

Note: It is likely that the Information about using and referencing ChatGPT and other generative AI tools in assignments and publications will continue to be updated. We recommend checking this page regularly to keep up with any changes.