I've got an email from my insurance company. It says,

"Please return this information to us in writing using the contact information above. When responding, please reference the claim number listed above. Thank you for your assistance."

I'm not sure what it means by "reference the claim number". Do they want me to write the claim number on the envelope?

  • 1
    Not necessarily on the envelope. Typically in the first sentence or if in a formal letter in the heading. You can write "Re:123456" or "With regards to claim 123456" or "With reference to 123456" or even just the claim number in brackets.
    – slebetman
    Feb 6, 2015 at 7:52

1 Answer 1


Yes. They want you to include the claim number somewhere. I would also (or instead) put it on the form or letter.

They are asking you to give a reference. As a noun, here is a relevant definition.

  1. a. A note in a publication referring the reader to another passage or source.

The same dictionary shows some related definitions as a verb, and discusses a usage problem:

Usage Note: Though originally a noun, reference is often used as a transitive verb meaning "to supply (a book, article, or other work) with references." People also use the verb to mean "To cite as a reference" or simply "To mention or allude to." Though some traditionalists oppose these latter two uses of reference, the usage is most widely accepted when the context involves actual citing of sources. For instance, in our 2013 survey, fully 70 percent of the Usage Panel found The paper references several articles on global warming at least somewhat acceptable, while only 37 percent accepted the sentence During the press conference, the mayor referenced the recent floods.

  • Good reference. I tend to disdain all verbal usages, but from your dictionary reference I see the tide is turning, and I shall have to quit kicking against progress! By the way, which dictionary did you cite? Feb 6, 2015 at 7:59
  • The link is just above the definition. It's the American Heritage Dictionary (and therefore, a very if not completely Amrrican usage panel). Feb 6, 2015 at 11:04

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