Skip to Main Content

English Language & Literature: Reference


What are reference resources?

Examples of reference sources include:

  • encyclopædias
  • dictionaries
  • biographical sources
  • guides
  • handbooks
  • manuals

They often contain foundational information, such as:

  • definitions of terms
  • verification of factual information
  • overviews on your topic
  • background information
  • research and writing support

They are useful to consult during the early stages of your research and can help you to:

  • learn the terminology appropriate for your topic
  • understand your topic's broad context
  • establish a coherent organizational structure for your work



These citation guides can help you with formatting style for references and bibliographies:

Style Guides for MLA, APA, and more

Purdue OWL MLA Formatting Guide


Zotero is an open-source software available to University of Waterloo students, faculty, and staff to assist with collecting, managing, and citing references. Citations are quickly and easily saved University of Waterloo Library catalogues and databases. Notes can then be added to these citations. Zotero offers various citation style options for the automatically generated bibliographies.

Zotero can be used offline or be synced with a cloud space to be used on multiple devices.

Annual research reviews

Dictionaries, encyclopædias, glossaries, etc.

For a comprehensive list of reference resources for all disciplines, see the Online Reference Shelf.

National biographies