Citing sources

What is a citation?

A citation is a reference to a source of information. It contains formatted bibliographic details about the source, such as title, author, date of publication, and other identifying information.

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. Different disciplines use different citation styles. Confirm with your instructor which citation style you should use.

For help with citing your sources, visit the Library's list of citation and style guides.

Manage your citations

Consider using citation management software, such as RefWorks, to track and format your 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.