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How to Cite an Email

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In today’s world, it’s super common for teachers to communicate with students via email. Assignments and papers are often submitted this way, and lecture notes can be easily shared with the entire class all at once. So, how would you cite this type of communication in your paper?

To cite an email from your teacher, you should make note of the following pieces of information:

  1. Your teacher’s name
  2. Title/subject of the email
  3. Recipient’s name (You!)
  4. Date sent

Below, we present the citation structure and an example in MLA, APA, and Chicago style format.

Need help citing other types of sources? Check our our helpful guides on BibMe.org, such as this one, on how to write an annotated bibliography.

MLA 8

Structure for MLA style:

Teacher’s Last Name, First Name. “Subject Line of Email.” Received by Your First Name Last Name, Date Sent.

Example:

Olsen, Mary. “Re: Midterm Homework Assignment.” Received by Jonas Bonds, 15 Mar. 2015.

APA

In APA style, no personal communication is included as an entry in your reference list. Instead, parenthetically cite your teacher’s name, the phrase “personal communication,” and the date of the communication as an in-text citation.

Examples:

(Teacher’s First Initial. Last Name, personal communication, date sent).

(E. Robbins, personal communication, January 4, 2001).

Chicago

Like in APA style, you do not need to include a reference in your bibliography for personal communications like emails. Instead, include the reference as a footnote at the bottom of the page.

Structure:

  1. Teacher’s First Name Last Name, e-mail message to class, Date sent.

Example:

  1. Patricia Burns, e-mail message to class, December 15, 2008.

Need an extra set of eyes to review your paper? Run your assignment through our grammar and plagiarism checker. We’ll provide instant feedback on any spelling, grammar, and plagiarism issues we see in your paper. If you’ve just started writing, it may pay to read our free grammar guides on pronouns, what is an adjective, a prepositional phrase, and other parts of speech.

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How do I format an in-text citation for an email in Chicago (notes-bibliography) format?

References to e-mail messages are either included in the running text or given in a note. Individuals’ email addresses should be omitted. If the context requires it, the owner’s permission should be obtained.

Example:

Text: John Smith communicated to the author through an email on January 5, 2021.

Note: 1. John Smith, email message to author, January 5, 2021.

Footnotes for electronic mailing lists include the name of the correspondent, the title of the subject or thread (if applicable), the title of the list or forum, the host site title (if applicable), the date of the message or post, and a URL. A file name or number may be appropriate.

Example:

Note:

5. John Vincent, reply to XYZ mailing list, February 15, 2000, no. 42, https://www.xyz.org/Mail/Archives.

6. William Smith, reply to ABCD@listserv.university.edu, International Language Training Forum, March 12, 2010, no. 563b, http://listserv.university.edu/scripts/xy.exe?A0=STAI.

How do I cite an email in Chicago notes-bibliography format?

References to email communications are included as a footnote at the bottom of the page, not in the bibliography. When citing an email in a footnote, include the correspondent’s first and last name, followed by “email message to,” the recipient, and the date.

Format:

1. Correspondent’s First Name Last Name, email message to author, Month Day, Year.

Example:

1. Mark Pagel, email message to the author, August 16, 2005.