RefWorks FAQ

Accessing RefWorks

How do I access RefWorks?

RefWorks is available online here.

You will need your Institutional Login. If you are on-campus, you should go straight into your account. If you are off-campus, click on the Login through your institution (Shibboleth users) link and select University of Westminster from the drop-down list.  Use your University username and password to sign-in.

If you are logging in for the first time you will be asked to register. You will receive an email confirming your registration. 

What is RefWorks 2.0?

Users who registered with RefWorks before 2011 will be used to seeing the Classic version of RefWorks. All accounts have been moved onto the new interface, RefWorks 2.0.  All the information in your existing RefWorks account will remain, it is just the ‘look and feel’ that has changed. RefWorks 2.0 is all the best of Classic, but streamlined with a clean, intuitive design that is:

  • Simple—with key functions via new buttons, navigation toolbars, action icons, light boxes, and collapsible menus with one-click features and support resources at the user’s fingertips
  • Powerful—with the ability to quickly view full references and share information with colleagues or researchers anywhere, whether they are RefWorks users or not

I keep getting error messages when I try to log in.

Make sure your browser or internet security/firewall software is not blocking the RefWorks site. Some browsers have a setting where you can make RefWorks a trusted site.  

If you are using FireFox, look for a blue exclamation point icon in the lower left-hand side of your screen (to the right of the lock icon). Click the exclamation point icon and in the "Blocked Popups" window that appears, click "Unblock Site". Next, select your browser refresh button and you should see the RefWorks login screen.

Make sure you are logging in the correct place. If you are off-campus you should select ‘Login through your institution (Shibboleth users)’.

Make sure you are using your Institutional Login.

If you are still having problems, ask a librarian via Service Desk.

Adding references to RefWorks

Can I add references straight from library e-Resources?

Yes, many databases like ScienceDirect or Business Source Complete let you save any references you find straight to RefWorks, so you don’t have to type them in manually. You can either send your search results directly to RefWorks, or save your search results as a list of references and then import the list into RefWorks.
If you carry out searches from within Library Search and add the articles to your e-Shelf, you can export the whole list of references from there.

How to add references to RefWorks from e-resources gives detailed instructions for using different e-resources.

How do I reference an article I found in an index or abstract only e-resource?

If you import the reference directly from the abstract database or index, then the name of that e-Resource will be imported stating this is where you accessed the full-text. However, the citation or reference should state the version you actually read.  If this is from another electronic resource, then you should change the name of the e-Resource to reflect this.  If you read the full-text from the printed version of a journal, then you should change the source type from electronic to print and remove the information about the e-Resource.

When I try to export references from a e-Resource, nothing happens. What do I do?

If you are using a popup blocker, try switching it off.  

If you are still unable to export references, you can save them as text a text file (.txt) and import into RefWorks.

Can I add references myself?

Yes, click on the New Reference button, choose the output style you intend to use, whether the reference you are adding is to an electronic or a printed source and choose the type, e.g . journal article. this will then display the fields used by your selected output style that must be completed for an accurate reference.

Organising your references in RefWorks

I have added references. Where are they?

When you add references from a database they will appear in your Last Imported folder. From here you can organize your references into your own permanent folders.

If you don’t organize your references after adding them to your Last Imported folder they will be in your RefWorks database, but not in any folder. To see all your references, click on View and then All References.  From here you can see all of your references at any time and organize them into folders.

How many folders can I create in RefWorks?

There is no limit to the number of folders you can create within your RefWorks account.

Can I put a reference into more than one folder?

Yes, you can add a reference to as many folders as you want. RefWorks does not copy the reference, it just “marks” it with a placeholder (your folder name(s)) and allows you to view or edit it from any of those folders.

How do I tell which folders a reference is in?

Each reference shows a list of the folders it's in on the last line in Standard View. You can remove a reference from a folder (without removing it from your database), by selecting the folder icon next to the name of the folder in the Edit view.

If I delete a reference from a folder, is it deleted from my database?

If you select the check box next to a reference and click on the red cross delete option at the top of the list of references your reference is removed from your database and all folders. You will get a warning message telling you it will be removed completely.   Deleted references will still be accessible for a short period of time under View  - Deleted Messages.  From here you can restore them by selecting the references with the check boxes and clicking on the double green arrow symbol.

If you view a list of references in a Folder view (View/ View Folder) you will see a Remove from Folder button (looks like a folder with a red circle in it). Selecting references and then clicking on this button only removes the references from that particular folder.

When you remove a reference from a folder, it is still “marked” for any other folders you have already chosen. If there are no marks left, it becomes “unfiled” and is available from the All References section or you can locate it by searching your RefWorks database.

How can I find duplicate records in my database and remove them?

RefWorks offers two options for locating duplicates – Exact Match and Close Match. Both options can be found in the View/Duplicates area.

  • Exact Matches checks the Author Names, Title and Year of Publication fields.
  • Close Matches compares a combination of Author Names, Title, and Year of Publication. It is a loose comparison so it will find duplicate references even if there are minor errors in the data. Depending on the size of your RefWorks database, the Close Matches search may take some time.

To remove duplicates permanently from your database:

  1. Mark the reference you want to delete by clicking the box next to the Ref ID. These selections are not saved when you go to the next page, so be sure to add the references to a folder before moving to another page.
  2. Click Delete (Red Cross).
  3. The duplicates list refreshes and the matching records you did not delete drop off this list (as it is no longer a duplicate).

How can I correct references in my database?

The information in RefWorks is as good as the information in the database it came from.  You may find you need to correct parts of references, for example, changing journal titles from abbreviations. Use the Edit option to edit a reference, or you can do a global edit. 

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

The notes, abstract and user definable fields are limited to 1Gb of information (that’s a lot), but if you add large amounts of data to these fields it will take more time to display your references and search results.

How do I backup my references?

You can backup your references using 'Backup/Restore'.

Important: Restoring will overwrite all of the references in your database.  If you need to restore from a back up for some reason, be sure to do so in either an empty database or to an account that does not have any data you want to save. 

Restoring Output Styles will overwrite styles with the exact same name and will add styles that are unique. As a result, you can create several custom styles and back up just the Output styles by selecting the styles you want to include or by selecting Check All to include all custom Output Styles. 

  • Select Tools, then Backup/Restore. You’ll see an option to Include References and/or Attachments, RSS Feeds and Output Styles (if you have created any).
  • Click on Perform Backup. A copy of your database will be downloaded to your computer in a zipped file that can only be used in the Restore feature of RefWorks. 

When you restore your RefWorks database, it overwrites all information currently stored in your account. If you need to view or move your data, we recommend using the Export option in RefWorks.

Note: You cannot open the backup file.  Should you want a viewable copy of your references, use the Export option.

Adding references to your paper and creating a bibliography

What is Write-N-Cite and what does it do?

Write-n-Cite allows you to access your references in RefWorks while working within Microsoft Word. Use Write-n-Cite to insert citation placeholders where you wish to add a reference into your assignment. When you are ready to add a bibliography to the end of the document, click on Bibliography in Write-n-Cite to create a bibliography and properly format your in-text citations.

Will Write-N-Cite work on my computer?

Write-N-Cite is compatible with:

  • Windows PCs using Internet Explorer and Microsoft Word 2000 or higher
  • Macs using OS 10.X version 3 or higher and Word for Mac 98 or higher.

Users with other operating systems, browsers or word processing software should use the One Line/Cite View feature which works very similarly to Write-N-Cite. See the online help in RefWorks or the RefWorks Tutorial for more information on Write-N-Cite or One Line/Cite View.

Can I have both Write-N-Cite and RefWorks open at the same time?

Yes. If you make edits in RefWorks be sure to refresh your Write-N-Cite version to reflect the edits.

Can I use Write-n-Cite offline?


  • Create a folder and add all the references you require for the paper to the folder.
  • Click on Export and select the folder you want to print, then select Citation List.
  • Click Export to Text File. When the file displays, print it using the browser's Print function.
  • Your printout or file will provide you with the RefIDs which you need to use in your document as citation placeholders. To manually insert citations in the text where you want to cite the reference, use two open curly brackets "{{" followed by the Reference ID number followed by two closed curly brackets "}}".
  • For multiple citations in the same location separate the Ref ID number with semicolons: {{34;45;23}}.
  • You will need to go back online to generate the bibliography or reference list by going to the Bibliography area and browsing to find your file.

My reference is to specific pages. How do I add page numbers?

Once you have finished your assignment, save the file and add them manually into your Word document. 

Which output style should I use to format my bibliography?

If your tutor recommends that you use the Library's Referencing Your Work guide, then you can use the University of Westminster output styles which will display your references as described in this guide. There are hundreds more styles available if your tutor instructs you to use a different referencing style.

Some Faculties require you to list ALL the authors, others allow you to use ‘et al.’ in your list of references when there are three or more authors. Make sure you check which style is preferred by your tutor or Faculty.

This example lists all the authors:

Kline, S., Dyer-Witheford, N., De Peuter, G., (2003). Digital play: the interaction of technology, culture and marketing. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

For this you would use the ‘Westminster 11/12 All Authors’ output style.

This example uses ‘et al.’ instead of listing all the authors:

Kline, S. et al., (2003). Digital play: the interaction of technology, culture and marketing. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

For this you would use the ‘Westminster 11/12 (Using et al.)’ output style.

Remember, once you have used Write-n-Cite to create a bibliography, check that it has got all the details correct.

The output style I want to use is not available, what can I do?

You can request that RefWorks create an output style or, you can create your own output style using the Output Style Editor. For more information on how to do this, see the RefWorks online help section called “Using the Output Style Editor”.

Contact Ask a librarian via Service Desk if you need help creating or sharing a new output style.

I created my own output style and some of my references in my database do not print out. How do I fix this?

Every output style must have the Generic reference type defined, as well as any other reference types you need. The Generic type is used when you have records in your database that are of a reference type that your style isn’t defined for.  

How do I give a colleague my output style?

You can share a custom output style by using the Backup/Restore feature of RefWorks. To find this, go to the Tools section and select Backup/Restore. Select the option to backup your output styles (do not backup your references) and perform the backup. Give this file to your colleague and have them perform a restore from the Tools section, Backup/Restore area.  Be sure you do not back up and restore the database as well. Your style will appear in red lettering in your colleague’s database. Make sure the style has a unique name, if it has the same name as one of your colleague’s it will be overwritten.

When I generated my bibliography I got an error message. What can I do?

  1. Make sure all citation placeholders (the things you inserted into your paper) have opening and closing double curly brackets {{ }}. You can use the word processors "find" feature to easily check your placeholders.
  2. Make sure any multiple citation placeholders are separated by a semi-colon.  For example:  {{39 Smith 2001; 57 Jones 2004}}
  3. Make sure the Reference ID numbers you are citing in your paper are still in your RefWorks database. You may have inserted a citation placeholder and then deleted the record from your account your bibliography won't work.

If you are still having problems generating your bibliography, contact RefWorks Technical Support at [email protected].

My bibliography is not coming out correctly. Why?

Make sure the information in your each reference is correct in RefWorks. RefWorks prints out what is stored, so if data is missing or not in the correct fields, your output may be incorrect. Always check to be sure the data in the database is correct before formatting a bibliography.

Converting to other formats

How do I import references from my EndNote database to RefWorks?

For EndNote version 8 or higher:

  1. Log into your RefWorks account.
  2. Select References, then Import.
  3. Select Endnote version 8.x library under the Import Filter/Data Source drop-down menu.
  4. Click Browse and locate your EndNote .enl file
  5. Specify a folder to import the references to. If you choose not to specify a folder your references will automatically appear in the Last Imported folder.
  6. Click Import.

For EndNote version 7 or lower:

  1. From EndNote, select the correct Output Style for the export. Under the File menu select Output Styles.
  2. From the list of output styles select RefMan (RIS) Export. If you do not see this format, open the Style Manager and check the RefMan format. Close the Style Manager and repeat steps 1 and 2.
  3. Select the references you want to export.
  4. Under the Reference menu select Show Selected (or Show All if you wish to export the entire database).
  5. Under the File menu select Export.
  6. A dialog box appears for you to select the location where you want to save the file. Type a file name and select a location for importing into RefWorks. Select Text as your Save As type and click Save.
  7. Go into RefWorks and from the References menu select Import.
  8. Select Desktop Biblio. Mgt. Software as your Import Filter and EndNote (either Windows or Macintosh) as your Database. Browse for and select the file you just created from EndNote.
  9. Click Import.

To ensure a successful import, you should import no more than 2500 records (or 3MB of files) at a time.

Can I move my RefWorks database into another database program?

RefWorks offers several export options that you can use with other programs. These options (available in References/Export) are:

  • Bibliographic Software (EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager)
    • Saves the database in a tagged format that can import into another bibliographic management program. It is the format sometimes called the RIS Format or Reference Manager Format and can be imported into Reference Manager, ProCite, EndNote, or any other program that supports the RIS Format
  • BibTeX – RefWorks ID
    • Saves the database in the file format for use with the LaTeX document preparation system.
  • Citation List
    • Creates a list to use when writing your paper offline. The format includes the RefID, Authors Primary, Title Primary, and Publication Year only. This format is probably not usable by any other bibliography manager.
  • RefWorks Tagged Format
    • Saves the database in a format similar to the bibliographic management software format. This is a tagged format. The data layout, however, is patterned after the RefWorks database as opposed to tags that match with other bibliographic programs. Use this format for backup purposes and for sharing data with other RefWorks users.
  • RefWorks XML Format
    • Use this format to create your export file in an XML format.
  • Tab Delimited
    • Saves all your data in an organized manner with each field separated by a tab. It may then be loaded into other programs that are designed to read this type of format.

Continuing your RefWorks Subscription

What happens when I graduate or leave the University?

You can convert your University account to an individual subscription. RefWorks Technical Support can provide you with instructions on how to move your database. You can also export your reference data in several formats using one of RefWorks Export options.

What happens to my data if the University cancels its subscription to RefWorks?

You will be notified prior to the cancellation. At that time, you can purchase an individual subscription to RefWorks or, if you prefer, you can export your entire database in a format that is compatible with other bibliographic software or some other type of database program.