How do I cite an email from the Department of State Human Services?

Expert Answers
vanertc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You did not indicate what citation style you are using, so I will answer for the two most commonly used, APA and MLA. The American Psychology Association (APA) states that you do not include personal communications, such as interviews and emails, in your list of references, since this data is not accessible to your readers. However, you do need to parenthetically cite any data from an email that you use in your text. You will include the first initial and last name of the author of the email, the phrase “personal communication,” and the date of the email. For example: (A. Jones, personal communication, April 26, 2016). In your case, if the author of the email you received is actually written as Department of State Human Services, that is what you will write for the author in your citation.

For the Manuscript Language Association (MLA) style, you will list the email in your works cited. Include the author, the re (subject) line in quotations, the name of the recipient of the message (in this case you), the date it was sent, and the the medium (e-mail). For example:

Jamison, Sarah. “Re: The History of Censorship in America.” Message to

       Jeremiah MacGilvary. 26 April 2016. E-mail.

MLA also requires that you parenthetically cite emails in your text by giving the author’s last name (Jamison). Again, if there is not a person but the Department of State Human Services written as the sender of the email, that is what you will use as your author. As you are giving the data in your text, it may also be helpful to briefly explain the context of the email, such as its purpose or the credibility of the author, since the email itself is not available to your readers.

A final note on the use of emails as a source: If the same information provided via the email is available in another source which is accessible to your readers, consider citing the accessible source instead. It lends more credibility. Also consider the type of text you are producing. If your purpose is for research, publication, or any formal document, an email may not be considered by your audience as the most credible source, unless the author is an expert in the subject matter.