How to Cite Instructor Notes in APA Format

Sometimes you want to quote or cite what your instructor said in class in an essay or research paper. Because no one can verify what your instructor said and no archive exists, notes that you took during a lecture are not recoverable data and fall under the category of “personal communication” according to the APA style guide. APA treats citation of personal communication in a special way: You should cite personal communication in-text only.

Step 1

Begin your citation with either a direct quotation in quotes or a paraphrased quotation from your instructor notes.

Step 2

Add the instructor’s first and middle initials, followed by the last name, followed by a comma, followed by the words “personal communication” followed by a comma, followed by a complete date, if known, in parentheses. If you do not know the exact date, give as much information as possible, such as month and year or just the year.

Example: “There are eight planets in our solar system (B. C. Miller, personal communication, January 18, 2011).”

Step 3

Use the instructor’s name in the body of your sentence and the rest of the citation in parentheses after the sentence if you want to refer to the instructor by name in your sentence.

Example: “According to B.C. Miller, there are eight planets in our solar system (personal communication, January 18, 2011).”