How to Cite an Open Letter

If you are conducting research on an opinion topic, you may want to cite an open letter written on the subject. How you cite an open letter varies based on where the letter was published. American Psychological Association (APA) style uses different citation styles for letters published in magazines and newspapers from those published online.

Letter in a Newspaper or Magazine

When citing an article or item published in a magazine or newspaper, APA style uses the following basic format:

Author Lastname, First Initial(s). (Year, Month Day Publisher). Article title: Subtitle if applicable. Periodical Name, Issue number if applicable, pages of article.

When citing an open letter, include the type of article in brackets following the title. For example, an open letter in a magazine might be cited as follows:

Dent, H. (2004, June 27). An open letter to vigilant citizens [open letter]. Gotham Weekly, 207, pp. 23-25.

When citing a newspaper article that is located on several pages, list each of the pages individually:

Kent, C. (1972, May 5). Luthor's theses: Why Lex is wrong for Metropolis [open letter]. Daily Planet, pp. 1A, 5A.

Web-Published Open Letter

If the open letter is published on a website or as a blog post, the URL of the site is included at the end of the citation:

Lifshitz, J. (2015, March 5). An open letter to my students: I am sorry for what I am about to do to you [open letter]. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from

The format for an open letter posted on a blog is "web log post." If the author of an open letter is an organization, or only a screen name is available, use this in place of the author name:

Build LLC. (2015, February 3). An open letter to building departments [web log post]. Build LLC. Retrieved from

In-Text Citation

Whenever you reference or quote your open letter source in the body of your paper, include an in-text citation to note what you are referencing. This includes the last name of the author, the year of publication, and the page number, if applicable.

For example,

The article is quick to emphasize the "courageous work of all well-meaning citizens, whatever their relation to the law" (Dent, 2004, p. 24).

Here, the author is emphatic: "Plutocratic apathy is not benevolence" (Kent, 1972, p. 1A).

Many professionals in the construction industry have critiqued the increasing paperwork required by city agencies (Build LLC, 2015), no doubt because it slows the time frame for future growth opportunities.

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