The evidence-based policy (EBP) movement argues for policy actors, especially public officials, to use scientific evidence on what works to improve public policies. Empirical research in Anglo-Saxon countries shows that public officials do not use scientific knowledge that widely, often preferring other sources of information, such as news media, public opinion and peers. What about countries with low influence of EBP, what informs policy here? Using data from a large-n survey with Brazilian federal bureaucrats we uncover associations between sources of information and factors shaping their preferences, such as policy work and policy capacities. We find that in a civil law system such as the Brazilian administration homemade sources rule: there is a prevalence of use of government sources, especially among bureaucrats performing analytical and oversight tasks, and those in higher positions. Academic sources are associated with higher analytical capacity (of the individual and organisation), but not with any particular policy sector. By investigating an important yet often neglected issue in EBP – the role of different types of information and how they inform policy – this article contributes to the literatures on policy work and policy capacity, especially given its empirical focus on Brazil.