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Create Bibliographies

What Is RefWorks?

RefWorks is a web-based bibliographic manager that includes a word processing plug-in for Microsoft Word and Google Docs.  RefWorks is popular with researchers that use academic databases to find information and want a bibliographic manager that they can access from any computer.

Notable features of RefWorks include:

  • Importing large numbers of references from multiple databases (i.e. transferring them to your RefWorks database)
  • Extensive organizational capabilities, including tagging and sub-folders
  • Creating bibliographies in hundreds of citation styles
  • Inserting in-text citations and bibliographies into documents
  • Sharing your references by creating stable URLs for your entire RefWorks database or for specific folders
  • Attaching files from your hard drive to references in your database--these can be shared and annotated with others

The information provided below is useful for researchers who want to become familiar with RefWorks' basic functions.  For a more complete guide to RefWorks features, I recommend ProQuest's RefWorks guide.

Getting Started with RefWorks

Create Your Account

To create a RefWorks account, click this link:

You will be asked for an email address.  Please use your email address only, as only this will authenticate you as a licensed RefWorks user.


For Users of Legacy RefWorks

If you've been using the previous version of RefWorks, you can continue to use it.

If you'd like to migrate your RefWorks database to the newest version of RefWorks, you can do that, too.

Adding References to Your Database

Once your account is created, you can start sending references to your RefWorks database.  There are several ways to do this:

  • Use the "Export to RefWorks" or "Send" functions in a variety of database platforms like EBSCOhost, JSTOR, Google Scholar, and more.  Depending on the database you're using, this function will appear in different places on your screen.  If you need help finding it, contact a librarian for assistance.
  • Some databases like PubMed and Web of Science can export references as .txt or .ris files.  You can import references from these files using the "+" button on your RefWorks toolbar.
  • Use the "Save to RefWorks" bookmarklet to capture bibliographic data in your web browser window.  You can capture bibliographic information from an article on your screen, a video, or even a list of search results.
  • Add references to your database manually.  Choose this option if you're working with an information source that you found offline (e.g. a print book, film, speech, etc.).  This option is found under the "+" button.
  • If you have been using another bibliographic manager or the "Legacy" version of RefWorks, you can transfer your preexisting references into your new RefWorks database.

Citing with RefWorks

To create bibliographies with RefWorks, open the folder with the citations you want to use, then click the " button in your RefWorks toolbar.

RefWorks will create a bibliography in your chosen citation style that you can copy and paste into a document.

Note: Look over your bibliography before submitting it to an instructor or publisher.  If you imported references that were poorly indexed--and this can happen even with references from well-respected academic databases--there is a chance that you will have incorrect formatting on some of your bibliography items.


If you want to cite sources within the text of your document, you can do it in one of two ways:

  • Use the Quick Cite option under the " button in your toolbar.  This will allow you to create in-text citations from any of the references in the folder you're viewing.  These can then be copied and pasted to your document.


Citing in Footnotes

When using RefWorks' citation tool while citing in Chicago Style (Notes & Bibliography) or another style that requires footnote citations, it's necessary to insert a footnote, then insert your citation in the footnote rather then the text of the paper. See the examples below to find out how the citation differs depending on its location.

Fig. 1: Chicago style citation inserted at the end of a sentence.

Fig. 2: Chicago style citation inserted into a footnote.


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JD Kotula
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