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October 16, 2009

APA Style for Citing Interviews

Timothy.mcadoo by Timothy McAdoo

“I’m quoting Johnny Depp from an interview I read in a magazine. But the Publication Manual has no reference format for interviews. What do I do?”

I’ve always said there are two types of interviews in this world: those you conducted and those you didn’t! Let’s look at both. 

The guidance on p. 179 of the Publication Manual about citing personal communications mentions “personal interviews” as one example. Let’s say you interview a professor about her lifetime of work in the field of industrial and organizational psychology. Because a reader would not be able to find your interview in print or online, no recoverable data are available. You’ll need to use the “personal communication” in-text citation style shown on p. 179.

Of course, these days it can be easy to make your data recoverable. If you have a blog or another publishing outlet online, you could post the text of your interview. Then you’d want to follow the appropriate reference format.  If you’ve posted to your blog, for example, use the Example 76 (“Blog post”) on p. 215 of the Publication Manual

Finally, if you’ve simply read an interview conducted by someone else, you should pick the reference format appropriate for the source. If you read the interview in a magazine, for example, you’d want to follow Example 7 (“Magazine article”) on p. 200.

I hope this post clears up that small point of confusion about citing interviews. Some of my favorite interviews are from Studs Terkel’s oral histories. What are yours?

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