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RefWorks Transition to Zotero: RefWorks FAQs

FAQ Answers for RefWorks

What is RefWorks?

Refworks is a citation management tool. It collects, stores, and organizes citations from books, articles, web sites, databases, and other sources. RefWorks converts citations into properly formatted bibliographies in numerous styles. Users can insert citations into Word documents & easily create bibliographies. Willamette students, faculty and staff are able to set up their own free accounts while on campus or contact John Repplinger at for assistance.

How can I get help with RefWorks?

Ask for help at the Hatfield Library reference desk or one of the Reference Staff. Email or IM one of the reference staff through the Ask a Librarian Services.
Contact John Repplinger, Willamette's RefWorks administrator, for assistance at Consult the RefWorks Online Help. or for directions to use RefWorks with a specific database (e.g. Ebsco) check the RefWorks instructions.

How do I create an account?

You must create an account before using RefWorks.This process only works while you are on-campus.  Go to the library's homepage Click RefWorks which is located on the red bar at the top of the screen. Click "Sign up for an Individual Account" and fill out the form. RefWorks will email your username, password, and group code (for off-campus use) to you, so keep this email for future use.

How do I access RefWorks (off-campus & on)?

While on campus, go to and log in with the log in and password you used when initially setting up your account. If you're off-campus, you'll be prompted to for a group code

What is Willamette's Group Code?

Willamette's Group Code identifies you as a member of the Willamette community when you work off campus--it provides additional security to your account while off-campus. Click here to view the group code. You will be prompted for your Willamette ID & password. It can also be found in the email you received after creating an account.

What is the difference between RefWorks & EndNote?

RefWorks & EndNote are both citation managers and do pretty much the same thing. Think of EndNote as desktop software that is purchased for one computer with one license. All of your citations are saved to that one computer--you can not access your citations from anywhere else (hopefully your citations are backed up else where other than your one computer). With EndNote, you can work off line and do not require an Internet connection.

Think of RefWorks as an Internet-based resource. It requires an Internet connection, and all of the citation info is saved online through the RefWorks interface. You can work off-line with RefWorks without an Internet connection, but you do need to download your citations before accessing your citations. One of the biggest benefits to RefWorks is that you can access your citations from any computer with an internet connection. Since it is Internet based, it works with any computer: PC, Mac, Linux, etc.

You can also share citations with other people in RefWorks. For example, if you co-writie something, you could email citations to your colleagues. You can even create a joint account that multiple parties can access (by sharing the password), or share folders within your personal account with other RefWork users.

With RefWorks, you can also insert citations into a Word Document while you write, similar to EndNote. There are hundreds of citation styles, many of which are journal-specific, including all of the main citation styles (e.g. APA, Chicago, MLA). RefWorks also allows you to customize citation styles, so you can tweak a citation style to whatever your needs or make up a completely new citation style!

How do I import from Endnote or similar tools?

To import records from EndNote, save your Endnote libraries or your entire Endnote database as text files in RIS format:
- In EndNote, go to the the Edit menu and select Output Styles and Open Style Manger. Click in the RefMan (RIS) Export checkbox. Close the Style Manager, go back to Edit, Output Styles, and select RefMan (RIS) Export from the pulldown menu.
- Highlight the references you want to export. Under the Reference menu select Show Selected (or Show All if you wish to export the entire database).
- Under the File menu, select Export.
- In the dialog box that appears, name your file and navigate to a location where you want to save your text file. Select Text as your Save As type and click Save.
- Open RefWorks and select the Import under the References menu.
- In the Import Filter/Data Source pulldown menu, select Desktop Biblio. Mgt. Software. In the Database menu, select EndNote. Use the Browse button to navigate to the text file you saved from EndNote and select it.
- Click on Import.
To import records from Reference Manager or Procite, see the online help.

How do I import citations from the library catalog or database?

After searching the catalog from the library's home page, click DETAILS under the item you want to cite.  In the top right corner of the box that opens, click SEND TO and REFWORKS. You will need to log into RefWorks if you are not already.

Many databases import citations directly into your RefWorks account. Select the item you want, click cite or export (terminology may differ), and follow the directions. Here's a list of directions for databases provided by RefWorks.

What if the database I need to use is not included in the RefWorks filters?

Try searching Google Scholar for the item you want--you may need to set up Google Scholar before importing.  You can always add records manually by clicking REFERENCES and ADD NEW.

When I try to export citations from a database to RefWorks, nothing happens. What do I do?

First check if it is opening in another tab or window.  If this isn't the problem, check if the popup window blocker is set on your browser.

For Firefox, click TOOLS--> OPTIONS--> CONTENTS tab--> then click Exceptions for BLOCK POP-UP WINDOWS. Then add as an allowed site.

For Internet Explorer, click the WRENCH TOOL icon--> Uncheck POP-UP BLOCKER. 

How can I export my bibliographic information?

You may export all or some of your bibliographic information into another bibliographic management program such as EndNote (see question 14, below, for details), a comma-delimited file, or as a text or Word file (e.g. a formatted bibliography or citation list). You may also export your citations in RefWorks format, in order to work off-line with them or to share them with another RefWorks user who can then import the citations into their RefWorks account.

Where are my RefWorks bibliographies stored?

Your bibliographic information is stored on the RefWorks server which is off-campus.

Is there a limit to the size of my database or number of citations I can have?

No. Your database may contain an unlimited number of references.

Is there a limit to the data I can put in the notes and abstract fields?

Yes, but it is an incredibly high amount of data that each record can hold.  The notes, abstract, and user definable fields are limited to 1 gigabyte of information. Note that by adding large amounts of data to these fields, the program takes more time to display each reference. Don't forget that you can attach PDF and MSWORD documents to your references.

My data doesn't always import correctly. What can I do?

Make sure the data you are trying to import is in a tagged format. For example:
TI: Title
Reforming the circle: fragments of the social history of a vernacular African dance form.
AU: Author
James, Wendy
AF: AuthorAffiliation
Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford
SO: Source
Journal of African Cultural Studies; Jun2000, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p140, 13p

Go to the Import area of RefWorks and ensure that both the Import Filter/Data Source and Database have been selected correctly. If you don't see the specific database you are searching in the drop down list, we do not have a filter for that particular database. In this case the data may still import but it may not be imported into the correct fields and the source information will all go into the notes field. Selecting Multiple Databases will not work if the specific database you are importing is not in the list. If you selected the correct Data Source and Database, but the data still comes in incorrectly, please contact the RefWorks support department at Attach a sample of the text file you are importing along with information on the source of the data. Or contact John Repplinger, Willamette's RefWorks Administrator, for assistance (

Why does my bibliography have incorrect data included in the output document?

The output format takes the data from a particular field and inserts it into the bibliography. If the data in the field is incorrect it will appear to be wrong in the output format. For instance, you may see a book title that has [Monograph] after it. Journal titles may also show an extra tag regarding volume numbers. The problem may be the imported data itself or the way the data is imported rather than with the output format. Always check that the data in the database is correct before formatting a bibliography. You can always edit the content of your imported documents.  If it is incorrect, you may edit the data yourself.

How do I import my RefWorks citations from EndNote, ProCite, or Reference Manager?

Step by step instructions are available from RefWorks.

How do I export my RefWorks citations into EndNote?

From RefWorks, go to the References menu and select Export.
Choose the Bibliographic Software option and save the file to your computer.
In EndNote, go to the File menu and select Import.
Locate the file and for "import option" choose "Reference Manager RIS."

What is Write-and-Cite?

Write-N-Cite allows users to cite references from your RefWorks account into MS Word with the click of a button.  You need to install Write-N-Cite first (available in RefWorks).   Once installed, Write-N-Cite will appear in Word under the ADD-INS tab.  Write-N-Cite also allows you to work on a paper and format a bibliography offline without an internet connection.  For information on working offline, click here.

Once you're ready to insert a reference, open Write-N-Cite by clicking the button in Word or on your desktop and loggin in. Click the CITE link next to the reference you want to insert. To generate your bibliography, click the Bibliography button in RefWorks or Write-N-Cite. Choose the citation format (e.g., MLA, APA) from the Output Format pull down menu, and select the folder your references are in. RefWorks will automatically add your references to your Word document and create a bibliography.

To download Write-N-Cite to your computer:

1. Log in to RefWorks.
2. From the top RefWorks navigation bar, choose TOOLS and then "Write-N-Cite."
3. Select the appropriate version of Write-N-Cite for your operating system.
4. Click OPEN and follow the installation instructions.

Can I open two accounts in RefWorks at the same time?

Yes, but you need to use different browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer and Firefox).

Can a RefWorks account be shared by a group?

Yes. An individual may create more than one account using a separate email address and different usernames and passwords for each account. This can be useful when working on group projects. The username and password can be shared with other members of the group for one of the accounts.

How do I back up my citations?

Select the Backup/Restore link under the References menu. Select Include References (for the database) and/or Include Output Styles (for outputs). Click on Perform Backup. Save the file when prompted. It should be saved as a .zip file. Although RefWorks backs up all databases on a regular basis, we recommend doing this as well. You may also export your references to a text file as a back up measure by choosing Export under the References menu.

What happens when I graduate or leave Willamette?  Will I have access to RefWorks?

As an alumni, you will continue to have access to RefWorks and any info or documents you added to your references after you leave Willamette.  Keep in mind that if you have not used RefWorks within 4 years, your account may be deactivated due to inactivity.  If you prefer, you can export your entire database in a format that is compatible with other bibliographic software (directions above).

What is RefGrab-It?

RefGrab-It is a program that captures basic bibiographic info about websites and imports the available metadata into RefWorks. RefGrab-It must be installed on your computer before it can be used. Installation instructions are located here and help instructions are located here.

How do I create a bibliography from a longer paper if the system times out?

You will need to log back into RefWorks if the system times out.