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RefWorks is a software system that makes it easy to collect and organize bibliographic references, then generate citations and bibliographies with the click of a button. It is similar to EndNote, ProCite, and Reference Manager, but unlike these other applications, RefWorks is web-based so it is accessible anywhere you have an Internet connection.

RefWorks is compatible with Windows, Macintosh, and Unix systems, and is available to all Smith faculty, staff, and students at no charge.

RefWorks Topics


Getting Help

General help
is available directly from the RefWorks website:

From the Learn RefWorks tab, choose:

Database-specific help is available from the Refworks page provided by the Smith Libraries:

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Getting Started

Start by creating your own RefWorks account, as follows:

  1. Open an Internet Explorer or Mozilla FireFox window.

  2. On-campus users: Go directly to the following website:

  3. Off-campus users: You will be going through the library proxy server, which requires you to enter your Novell network username and password:

  4. On the RefWorks homepage, click on the User Login button on the toolbar.  

  5. On the RefWorks User Login for Smith College page, click on the link to sign up for an individual account.

    Fill out the registration form, completing all fields. We recommend using your Novell username for your RefWorks login name.

Note: If at any time you forget your login name or password, you must go back to the RefWorks website and click on the "Forgot your log-in" link. RefWorks will then email you the correct information.

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Building Your Database

There are several different ways to add references to your RefWorks database:
  • For hundreds of commonly-used databases, you can add references directly to your RefWorks database with the click of a button.

  • If a database does not link directly to RefWorks, you can easily create a text file and import it to RefWorks.  The Smith Libraries website provides directions for importing from many frequently-used databases:

  • For additional information, including guidelines for importing references from EndNote, ProCite, and Reference Manager into RefWorks, go to the RefWorks website from the Help menu select help.  From the listing on the left click on "Getting References Into Your Account".  Select the subtopic "Converting from Other Bibliographic Management Programs.

  • You can enter a reference manually any time you want.

The sections below show examples of the three ways you can add a reference to your RefWorks database, after you've completed the initial steps for ALL on-line databases, below:

For ALL on-line databases, start by performing the following steps:

  1. Minimize your RefWorks window.

  2. Open another browser window (Internet Explorer or FireFox).

  3. Go to the Smith College Libraries database page to begin your search:

  4. Navigate to the database you plan to use.

Example 1: Direct link from an EBSCO Database

  1. Perform a search in any EBSCO database.  In the results list, click on the Add to folder link below any reference you want to save.

  2. Locate and click on the Folder link.  This will open the Folder Contents screen. 

  3. Check the box next to any citation you want to export.
  4. From the Results List, click the Export icon.  This will open the Export Manager screen.

  5. From the Export Manager screen, select "Direct Export to RefWorks".

  6. On the left, click the Save button.

  7. If you already have your RefWorks account open in another window, the window will appear with a message saying "Importing references, please wait." The window will tell you how many references were imported and allow you to view them. If the window does not appear, see the note about pop-up blockers.

  8. If you were not logged into your account, another window will appear asking you to log into your account.  Your references will be imported after you log in. If the "importing references" window does not appear, see the note about pop-up blockers.

  9. Don't forget to check your imported references for errors.

Important Note about Pop-up Blockers

Depending on how your browser handles pop-ups or which toolbars you may have added (e.g., the Google toolbar has additional pop-up blockers), you may see a Pop-up blocked bar directly below your browser toolbars.

Click on the Pop-up blocked bar and select Temporarily Allow Pop-ups from the drop-down menu. If you have more than one pop-up blocker, you may have to repeat this operation more than once.

(Note that selecting Always Allow Pop-ups from this menu will not help, since every time you perform a new search you will be on a different site.)

Example 2: Importing references from JSTOR

  1. Perform a JSTOR search.

  2. After completing your search, click on the title of any results you plan to save. Note: This action is required for each article you plan to import.

  3. Click Export this Citations.

  4. In the Export Citations window, select RefWorks.

  5. If you already have your RefWorks account open in another window, the window will appear with a message saying ‘Importing references, please wait’.  The window will tell you how many references were imported and allow you to view them. If you wer not logged into your account the login window will appear and your references will be imported after you login.


Example 3:  Enter a Reference Manually

  1. From within RefWorks, open the References drop-down menu and select Add New Reference.

  2. From the View fields used by drop-down menu, select a bibliographic output style. The green checkmarks indicate the fields used in the selected output style.

  3. Select the folder you want the reference added to and the type of reference it is.

  4. Continue entering information into the fields with green checkmarks.

  5. When you're done, click on the Save Reference link at the top of the page.

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Checking for Errors

RefWorks imports references based on Import Filters that have been created using data samples from various service providers and databases.

Occasionally, there is data that is not imported or data that is imported into an incorrect reference type or field. It is your responsibility to review and edit this data.

  1. References are always imported to the Last Imported folder. When you have completed an import, click the View Last Imported Folder button.

  2. The references you just imported will appear on the screen. Click either the View or Edit link to the far right of the reference. If you are in the View mode and you notice an error, click the Edit link in that window to begin editing.

  3. Use standard keyboard commands to edit this information. See appropriate chart below.

    Windows:  Standard keyboard commands

    Backspace Deletes to the left of the cursor
    Delete Deletes to the right of the cursor
    Select Click hold and drag or shift + arrow
    Copy Ctrl + C
    Cut Ctrl + X
    Paste Ctrl + V

    Macintosh:  Standard keyboard commands


    (main key board)

    Deletes to the lefts of the cursor


    (center keypad)

    Deletes to the right of the cursor
    Select Click hold and drag or shift + arrow
    Copy Apple Command + C

    Apple Command + X

    Paste Apple Command + V

  4. When editing is complete, click Save Reference.

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Managing Your References

RefWorks provides several tools to manage your references. New accounts have one folder, Last Imported.  Each time you import only the latest references go to this folder. References imported prior to the last import that have not been assigned a specific folder remain in the folder, "References not in a folder". 

Putting references into folders

  1. From the Folders drop-down menu, select Create New Folder.

  2. Type a name for the folder then click OK.

  3. From the View menu select Folder, References not in Folder. A list of references within your main database appears.

  4. Just above each reference in a shaded bar is a Ref ID number and checkbox.  This checkbox is for selecting.   Select any or all references that you would place in the same folder. 

  5. From the Put in Folder drop-down, select the desired folder.  All selected references will be added to this folder.

  6. Note that you can save a reference in more than one folder.  To see where references are saved, open the View menu and select All References.  The shaded bar just above each reference shows the folders it is saved in on the far right.

Removing a reference from a folder

  1. Open the folder and locate the reference to be removed.  Click in the Ref ID check-box.

  2. Click the Remove from Folder button. 

    Note: Do NOT click Delete, as this will permanently remove the reference from all folders.

Sorting references

You can change the sort order for your references at any time:

  1. From the Folders drop-down menu, select the folder to be sorted.

  2. Click on the Sort by drop-down menu in the upper right of the window, and select the sort order of your choice.

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Generating Bibliographies and Citations

Format a bibliography from your references

  1. Click the Bibliography button.

  2. Select an Output Style from the dropdown listing. (You can click on Preview Styles to see how the references will appear in a bibliography, as text, or in notes.)

    Output Style

  3. Click on Format a Bibliography from a List of References.

  4. Select a type of file to create from the dropdown.

    type of file

  5. Select which references to include.

  6. Click on Create Bibliography

  7. A new window will open with your bibliography file.  Save this file to your C: or H: drive.

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Entering Citations using Write-N-Cite

Write-N-Cite is a utility that allows Microsoft Word users to cite references in a document with the click of a button.

Before you can use Write-N-Cite, you must first download the Macintosh or Windows version of the program from the Tools menu in RefWorks.

Windows Users only:  After you've downloaded and installed Write-N-Cite, if you wish to use it off-campus:

  1. From the Start menu, select Programs, then RefWorks.

  2. Select the WNC Proxy Configuration Utility.

  3. Enter the following URL, exactly as shown:

Once that's done, you should be able to use the program even when you're off-campus.

All users:

After you download the software:

  • Windows users: Open Word. You should see that the Write-N-Cite toolbar button has been added. Clicking this button will open a Write-N-Cite login screen. Log in using your RefWorks username and password.

  • Mac users: You will have the Write-N-Cite program added to your Application folder. Open Write-N-Cite and log in using your RefWorks username and password.

Note:  When you are ready to insert references into your Word document, always open your Word document before you open Write-N-Cite.

To confirm that there is a link between Write-N-Cite and your open document, check the MS Word status bar across the top of the Write-N-Cite window. It should display the name of your open Word document.

Using Write-N-Cite

By default, Write-N-Cite displays All References.  However, you may be working from one particular folder.  From the View menu select that folder.  Write-N-Cite will now display the references from that folder.

  1. Going back to your Word document, place the blinking cursor in a paragraph if you want to cite-in-text, or from the Insert menu select Reference/footnote.  Complete the MS Word Footnote/Endnote dialog box.  This will place a blinking cursor in the note reference area.

  2. From the Write-N-Cite window click the appropriate cite link.   Write-N-Cite will place a placeholder between curly brackets it does not place the full reference at this time.  Example:
    {{2 Anonymous 2006; }}

  3. Continue to place citations.  When all citations have been placed SAVE the Word document, but don’t close it, do not close Write-N-Cite.

  4. From the Write-N-Cite window click on Bibliography, and then select an output style.

  5. Click Create Bibliography.  Write-N-Cite will interact with your word document by formatting the citations placeholders in your document.  It will also create a Works Cited at the end of your document.

  6. Office 2003 users:  When complete note the Title bar across the top of your word document will have the word Final- before the document name.  This is your finished document. 

    Office 2007 users:  you will not see a title change as Write-N-Cite writes to the orginal document.

  7. Office 2003 users: Review the new document paying close attention to the citations and Works Cited.   If all is well you will have two documents, your original with the citation placeholders and the Final.  Save the Final document if all is correct.  If you have found errors in the citations do not save this Final document. 

    Office 2007 users: Review the new document paying close attention to the citations and Works Cited.  If all is well you, either save this document over the top of the old document or Save As giving it a new file name.  If you have found errors in the citations do not save this document. 

  8. At this point you will have to open your RefWorks account and edit any reference that were not correct, being sure to save the changes.  See Checking for Errors section.

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Backing Up Your Data

RefWorks backs up your data several times daily, however, your database resides on the RefWorks server not a Smith Server.  You can create a backup of your references on your computer by using the Backup/Restore feature.

  1. Select Tools, then Backup/Restore. Now select the option to Include References and/or Include Output Styles.

  2. Click on the Perform Backup button. A copy of your database will be downloaded to your computer in a zipped file.  This file can only be used in the Restore feature of RefWorks.

  3. If you restore your RefWorks database, it overwrites all information currently stored in your account.

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Accessing your RefWorks Account After You Leave Smith

If you are leaving Smith and want to take your references with you in a readable text file, you can Export a text file:

  1. From the References menu select Export.

  2. Select Bibliographic Software from the listing.

  3. Click the Export to Text File button.

  4. From the File menu select Save As, and change the location to either your C or H: drive.

If you set up an individual Refworks account at Smith and have used it within the past six months, you can continue to access your RefWorks account after graduation by going to:

Note that if you are off-campus, this access method requires you to provide a RefWorks group code when you log in. The access code is reset every spring. To be sure you always receive an email message with the new group code, make the following changes to your Refworks account settings while you are still on campus:

  1. Log in to your RefWorks account.

  2. From the Tools menu, select Update User Information.

  3. Enter the email address you will be using after graduation.

  4. Change the Type of User to Alumni.

  5. Click Update.

If you plan to access your account through another subscriber after graduation, and/or want to save your collected references in a format you can use with a different database program, please follow the instructions below before your Novell account expires.

If your Novell account has expired and you need your saved RefWorks references, please contact the User Support Center at 413-585-4487.

Accessing your RefWorks Account through a Non-Smith Subscription

If, after you leave Smith, you will be enrolled at a college or university with a RefWorks subscription, or employed by an organization with a RefWorks subscription, you can move your account.

To move your account, first save a backup copy of your RefWorks database:

  1. Go to the Refworks login page and enter your RefWorks group code (if you are off-campus) or your Novell username and password if you are on-campus, then log in to your RefWorks account.
  2. On the Tools menu, select Backup/Restore.
  3. Use the Backup option to save a backup of your database as a .zip or .rwb file.
  4. Save the backup file on your hard drive or a portable storage device.

Once you have access to your account through a different RefWorks subscription:

  1. Go to the Refworks login page and log in to your RefWorks account, or use the login page provided by your new institution.
  2. On the Tools menu, select Backup/Restore.
  3. Use the Restore option to add the .zip or .rwb file to your new account from your hard drive or portable storage device.

Saving your RefWorks References for Use with Another Database Program

RefWorks offers several export options that allow you to save your references for use with other programs. These options (available in Tools/Export References) 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 used 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 another bibliography manager.

  • RefWorks Tagged Format. Saves the database in a format similar to the bibliographic management software format. This is a tagged format. However, the data layout 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.

  • 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.

  • XML. Use this format to create your export file in an XML format.

For more information about Refworks, see:

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Copyright © 2015 Smith College Information Technology Services  |  Stoddard Hall   |  Northampton, MA 01063
413.585.4487  |  Questions or comments?  Send us email
 |  Last updated January 10, 2013

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