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Using RefWorks to Manage Bibliographic Citations

What is RefWorks?

A web-based program that allows you to easily collect, manage, and organize bibliographic citations by interfacing with databases. RefWorks also interfaces directly with Microsoft Word, making it easy to import citations and incorporate them into your writing as properly formatted footnotes or parenthetical citations according to the style of your choice.

Setting up an Account

Go to, click "Sign up for an Individual Account."

About accounts:

  • One user may create multiple RefWorks accounts
  • Multiple users may use one RefWorks account to collaborate--ideal for group projects
  • (If you should ever need it, the group institutional code is RWCorIndLabRS).

What Software is Compatible with RefWorks?


Internet Explorer Version 7.0 or later (Windows only)

Firefox 3.X or later (Windows, Mac and Linux)

Safari 3 and later (Mac)

Google Chrome (Windows only)

Word Processors:

Microsoft Word for Windows, 2000 or later

Microsoft Word for Mac, 2004 or later

You can also use any word processor including Ami-Pro, FrameMaker, OpenOffice, StarOffice, Word Perfect or any other program which allows you to save your files as RTF (Rich Text Files).

Note: Write-N-Cite is only compatible with Microsoft Word. All other word processing software users should use One Line/Cite View for their documents.

Write-N-Cite 4 for Windows is compatible with the following applications:

Microsoft Word 2007, 2010 and 2013 (local, not cloud-based, installations of 2013 only)

Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and 8.

Write-N-Cite 4 for Macintosh is compatible with the following applications:

Microsoft Word for Mac 2008 and 2011

Mac OS X version 10.6, 10.7 & 10.8 (Snow Leopard, Lion & Mountain Lion)

Navigating RefWorks folders and references

  • The RefWorks Toolbar: References and Folders
  • Last Imported
  • All References
  • References and their fields

A RefWorks database is made up of References, the equivalent of records such as those found in the Classic Catalog database. Each reference is made up of labeled fields for the author's name, the title of a book, and the year of publication, for instance. Journal articles have a different set of fields, such as the article author, article title, journal title, volume number, issue date, pagination, etc. In RefWorks, references can be saved in folders, left in the "Last Imported" holding tank, or left in the default holding tank called All References.

Click on the folders tab to create a folder, view, or organize folders.

hands-on session

Methods for building your RefWorks database/folders

Manually add a new reference

From within RefWorks, click on the "References" tab on the toolbar, then choose "add a new reference." Type information into each reference field, one field at a time. Information from another source (a database or Word document) may also be copied and pasted into each field of a RefWorks reference.

Using RefWorks with databases

From within a database, import into RefWorks using filters

  • From inside a database, such as the Cornell's Classic Catalog, save results as a text file (*.txt) on the desktop. Then, in RefWorks, click on "References" on the toolbar, choose "Import." Set Cornell University as the Import Filter/Data Source, then choose the database (actually the filter for the database) you used, then click on browse next to the "Import Data from the following Text File" box to find the text file on the desktop. Finally click on the import button near the bottom of the screen.
  • Alternate method: From inside the database, instead of saving results as a text file, copy text results. Then, in RefWorks, click on "References" on the toolbar, choose "Import." Choose the database you used, then paste the text results into search box labeled "Import Data from the following Text." Finally click on the import button near the bottom of the screen.

hands-on session

From within a database, export into RefWorks
From inside a database, use the database's export button to send references to RefWorks. Export buttons usually appear under a 'saved citations' or 'marked list' button in the database. In our Classic Catalog, the "Export to RefWorks" button appears at the bottom of the record for an individual book.

Through RefWorks, connect directly to databases
From within RefWorks, click on the "Search" tab on the RefWorks toolbar, then choose "online catalog or database." Choose from the databases under Cornell University. This allows you to search some Cornell-restricted databases through RefWorks.

Note: Although connecting directly can be convenient, sometimes the data downloaded is not as clean. For example, connecting directly with the Classic Catalog sometimes results in incorrect call numbers (assigned by the Library of Congress rather than assigned by Cornell), whereas importing from the catalog will retrieve the correct Cornell call number.


hands-on session

Working with references and folders

  • Moving references from folders
  • Searching folders
  • Organizing, deleting, renaming folders
  • Global Edit
  • Duplicate references

Incorporate references from RefWorks into writing

RefWorks comes with more than 300 predefined bibliographic styles. From within RefWorks, you can easily create a bibliography.

Generating a Bibliography

From within RefWorks, click on the "Bibliography" tab on the toolbar, choose an output style, choose a folder, then choose the "file type." Click on the "create bibliography" button near the bottom of the page. Choosing HTML will provide you with a webpage looking bibliography that can be printed or copied and pasted into Word or emailed.

Creating a Paper with a Bibliography in Word

RefWorks works with Word to make it easy to incorporate references from RefWorks as you write. This requires downloading Write-N-Cite. To download, log into RefWorks, click Tools on the Menu bar in RefWorks, and click Write-N-Cite in the dropdown menu.

First create a document in Word. Use Write-N-Cite to add references. Save the document. When you're finished with the paper, from within Write-N-Cite, click on the "Bibliography" tab on the toolbar, choose an output style from the pull-down menu, then click on the "create bibliography" button. RefWorks will create an alternate version of the paper and suggest an alternate name beginning with final. Keep both versions of papers, just in case you need to make changes.

Tip for page numbers: To add page numbers (or other information) to references in styles that allow page numbers (not all styles do), Windows users can click on the Edit Citation link in the upper right-hand corner of the Write-N-Cite window. Mac users can modify citations by using "in-text switches"--In Word, inside the temporary citation type /s before the page number. For example {{329 Smith /s43}} in the final form of a paper in MLA citation style would be: (Smith 43). More about modifying citations and adding page numbers

More help on Creating a Paper and a Bibliography with Write-N-Cite is available. Click on Help in the RefWorks menu bar and choose Launch Help File from the dropdown menu.

hands-on session

RefWorks and EndNote

RefWorks is compatible with EndNote (another citation management program that can be purchased through the Campus Store). References can easily be moved from one program to the other and back. To move citations from one citation manager to another, create a text file and export in one program, then choose import and the appropriate filter in the other program.

More help on transferring to and from EndNote (or other citation management program) is available by navigating the RefWorks Help pages. Click on Help in the RefWorks menu bar and choose Launch Help File from the dropdown menu.

RefWorks Help

Open RefWorks and choose Tutorial or Launch Help File under Help in the menu bar.

For assistance from the library staff with RefWorks questions or problems, use this online form to contact us or schedule a consultation.

Updated 13 September 2013 (MOE)

Virginia Cole
Research & Learning Services
Olin Library


09/13/2013 - 11:44am -