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Citing sources

What is a citation?

A citation is a way of briefly acknowledging the work and ideas of another in your writing. A citation contains specific bibliographic details about a source, such as its title, author and date of publication.

Why citing is important

Properly acknowledging sources is an essential part of academic integrity. Crediting other people’s work through citations enables your readers to see where your ideas originated, and gives them the necessary bibliographic information to locate the sources themselves.

Citation styles

The way you format your citations is typically determined by your discipline. Fields such as psychology, English, history, science and math require you to follow styles used by those disciplines. Confirm with your professor which citation style to use.

The Library’s list of citation style guides includes common used citation styles such as the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Psychological Association (APA), Chicago Style, Medical Style, Modern Language Association (MLA), Turabian Style and others.

Manage your citations

Consider using citation management software, like RefWorks, to keep track of, and format, citations in the style you need.


As an academic community we have to comply with Canadian Copyright Law, and international copyright conventions. This means that any copying of materials by Waterloo faculty, staff or students, regardless of format, is subject to certain limits and restrictions.

Waterloo's copyright guidelines provide a basic summary of copyright law, guidance on best practices, and information to help you understand what you can and cannot do with copyrighted works.

For problems, questions, and feedback ask us

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