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Citing Sources: RefWorks

A quick guide to citations and RefWorks, the citation manager.

Refworks Announcement

In our ongoing commitment to support effective citation management services, we have completed a review of our current RefWorks subscription. After carefully considering the functionality and cost-effectiveness of RefWorks to other citation management services, we have decided to cancel our subscription effective September, 2022.  

How do I move my citation data from RefWorks to another tool?
You will be able to access your RefWorks account until October 31, 2022. To move your RefWorks library to another citation management service, you will need to export all your citations and then import them into the new service. If you want to keep all your folders, you will need to export one folder at a time. Please note that you CANNOT export attachments (like PDFs) so you will want to make sure that you have them saved in another location. The RefWorks user guide has additional details on exporting and importing citations to/from various tools.

We know that changing citation software, particularly if you are in the middle of a big research project, can be challenging and we are here to help! If you have any questions, please make an appointment with a research librarian who can guide you through the process.

What citation management software do you recommend instead of RefWorks?
The Foley Library will support Zotero moving forward. Zotero is a free, open-source, web-based tool for managing citations and PDFs, and creating bibliographies. It is highly customizable with a robust user community and works online and on your desktop. Since it is a freely available tool, you can continue using it if you leave the University. To learn more about Zotero the video below is from our  Zoom Zotero training session earlier in the spring.  You can also review our guide on Moving References from Refworks to Zotero. You can also setup a Research Appointment with one of our Liaison Librarians, and checkout our Getting Started with Zotero guide.


What is RefWorks?

RefWorks Logo

RefWorks is a citation manager. It can help you organize your research by storing citations for the articles you find. You can then use those citations to automatically generate a bibliography, formatted to whatever citation style you choose. You can even sync your RefWorks account with Microsoft Word to drop in-text citations into your document.

RefWorks looks complicated, but it's actually easy to use and very helpful. This guide will help you get started.

Go through the tabs below step-by-step. If you prefer, there are video tutorials in the final tab of the first section.

Getting Started with RefWorks

1. Go to (or click the RefWorks link on the Foley homepage and choose the new, blue version of RefWorks if you are asked).

2. Click Create Account. (Note: even if you already have an account with the old version of RefWorks, you will still need to create a new account in the new version. Once you have done so you can import all your citations from the old version to the new. Click here for instructions.)

Picture of Create Account Button

3. Enter your Gonzaga email address. RefWorks will see that you are part of the Gonzaga community and grant you access.

Picture of entering a Gonzaga email address

4. Choose a password to use along with your email for logging in, and click Sign Up.

Picture of RefWorks asking for a password to be created

5. Congratulations, you have a new RefWorks account!

Now that you have a RefWorks account, you need to add some citations to it! 

1. Make sure you are logged in to your RefWorks account.

2. Find an article in one of Foley's databases. I'm using Academic Search Complete, an EBSCO database. (Other databases will look a little different but operate much the same way.)

3. When you have found an article in the database that you would like to keep track of in RefWorks, click on the Export link on the right side of the Detailed Record. (In other databases it might be called Save or something else). That link takes you to the Export Manager where RefWorks is the default for Foley Center Library databases.

Picture of the Export button in an EBSCO database

4. Click Save to send the citation to RefWorks, where it appears in Last Imported and in All Documents.

Picture of a document in the Last Imported folder in RefWorks

Now RefWorks has all the information you need to cite that article!

(Note: the majority of our databases can directly export citation information to your RefWorks account. For some of the trickier databases to use with RefWorks, see the separate sections for them below.)

Not working? Try these steps:

1. Make sure your browser isn't blocking popups from the database. Check the upper right corner of the browser screen for an icon or text indicating that popups are being blocked. Below is how it looks in Chrome (as of this writing, anyway); it might look a little different in your browser. Tell the browser to allow popups for the database.

2. Use the "Save to RefWorks" bookmarklet. Instead of the database sending the info to RefWorks, using this bookmarklet means that RefWorks reaches into the database and tries to grab the info instead. It works really well! Instructions for using it are in the first tab in the "Advanced Refworks Tecniques" section below.

3. If all else fails, look for an option in the database to export in RIS format. This will download a tiny little file to your computer. Upload that file to RefWorks (see the screenshot below) and your citation will magically appear!

If you want to cite something you did not find in a database (like a book, or a PDF found elsewhere), you can manually enter the citation information into RefWorks. 

1. Click the + botton and choose Create New Reference. 

Picture of the Create New Reference option

A panel will appear on the right side of the screen. 

2. Select the source type (book, journal article, etc) from the drop down menu. 

3. Enter the title into the Title field.

4a. As a shortcut, once you have entered the title, click the lightning-looking button on the right (see the screenshot below). This will look through Summon, Proquest's metadata database (try saying that three times fast) to try to find a match. If it finds one, just click it in the list that appears at bottom, and it will fill in all the rest of the citation information.

Picture explaining the steps: 1. Select type of source, 2. type the title, 3. Click the lightning bolt button to search for the info, and 4. Select the matching title from the list

4b. Or just finish filling the fields out manually.

5. Click Save at the top to save the citation.

Once you have several citations in your RefWorks account, it can be useful to organize them into folders.

1. RefWorks folders are listed in the left sidebar. Click + Add a Folder to add and name a new folder.

Picture of the Add a Folder button and the field for naming your folder

2. To add citations to your new folder, just go to All Documents, Last Imported, or Not in Folder, click on the citation you want to add, and drag it to the folder.

Picture of dragging a document from the Last Imported list to a folder in the sidebar

That's it!

Once you have organized your citations into a folder, you can use that folder to generate a formatted bibliography.

1. Click on the RefWorks folder you want to use to generate your bibliography

2. If you want to use every reference in this folder for your bibliography, go on to the next step. If you want to use specific references, click the checkbox next to each reference you want to use.

3. Click on and choose Create Bibliography.

Picture of selecting the Create Bibliography option

4. Choose your citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc) from the dropdown menu at the top, and watch as your bibliography is automatically changed to match. When you are happy, click Copy to Clipboard.

Picture of choosing a citation style and copying the citations to the clipboard

Then just go to Microsoft Word (or wherever you are writing your paper) and paste the bibliography in! This is what a bibliography looks like when it has been generated as a Word document in APA. That sure saved a lot of work! For more cool things you can do with RefWorks and Word, check out the Write-N-Cite page in this guide. 

Picture of the citations pasted into a Word document

(Sharp eyes might notice a mistake or two in this bibliography. See Always Proofread RefWorks for the reason for this.)

Common Errors in RefWorks’ Bibliographies

or. . . why proofreading is essential!

RefWorks can save you a ton of time because it's much faster than a human at creating bibliographies. Unfortunately, though, it's not nearly as smart as a human. So it's up to you to check its work!

Bibliography Example

Kim, D., Fisher, D, & McCalman, D. (2009). Modernism, christianity, and business ethics: A worldview perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 90(1), 115-121. doi:
Here’s a cool Bob Marley quote.  "Although the road has been long and bumpy, it sure feels good to me". 

What's Wrong?

RefWorks does not recognize proper nouns. This is such a common error that you will probably find at least one when you proofread your own bibliography. Luckily, it’s an easy fix.

Bibliography Example

Andersson, L. M., & Pearson, C. M. (1999). Tit for tat? The spiraling effect of incivility in the workplace. The Academy of Management Review, 24(3), 452-471. Retrieved from
In this article we introduce the concept of workplace incivility and explain how incivility can potentially spiral into increasingly intense aggressive behaviors. To gain an understanding of the mechanisms that underlie an "incivility spiral," we examine what happens at key points: the starting and tipping points. Furthermore, we describe several factors that can facilitate the occurrence and escalation of an incivility spiral and the secondary spirals that can result.

What's Wrong?

This is the abstract from the database. If you are required to annotate your bibliography, you will need to replace this with your own annotation.

Bibliography Example

CHRISTIAN, K., ENGEL, A. M., & SMITH, J. M. (2011). Predictors and outcomes of prolonged ventilation after coronary artery bypass graft surgery. American Surgeon, 77(7), 942-947. 
I like watching Gonzaga basketball, but I prefer reruns of nerdy TV shows

What's Wrong?

Author's names are in ALL CAPS. Some databases put authors or titles in all caps. You can fix this as you proofread your bibliography. To permanently correct it, edit the record in RefWorks.

Bibliography Example

Haldeman, J. (2011). The learning organization: From dysfunction to grace. Journal of Management & Marketing Research, 9, 1-9. Retrieved from
Dysfunctional school administration or bosses who are bullies are interesting topics; not pleasant to think about, but interesting.

What's Wrong?

This is an APA-style citation, and “retrieved from” and the accompanying URL aren’t required in APA citations. As stated on the Purdue OWL website: “ information in citations is not necessary because databases change over time.” It's important to know the rules for your particular citation style.

Bibliography Example

Johnson, C. E. (2007). Ethics in the workplace: Tools and tactics for organizational transformation. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Retrieved from; Materials specified: Table of contents; Materials specified: Table of contents; Materials specified: Table of contents; Materials specified: Contributor biographical information; Materials specified: Publisher description
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?  Sally sells sea shells by a pack of pickled peppers.  Eleven benevolent elephants were telling tales of tongue twisters

What's Wrong?

Do NOT include the table of contents!  This is a book citation exported from WorldCat. Something in the WorldCat export file often causes extra information to show up in your RefWorks bibliography. This is very useful information in WorldCat, but it does not belong in an APA bibliography! If something like this shows up in your bibliography, delete it!


These video tutorials will walk you through the main features and capabilities of RefWorks.

1. Creating a RefWorks Account


2. Adding References to RefWorks


3. Using RefWorks to Organize and Cite Your Research


4. Using RefWorks with Microsoft Word

Advanced RefWorks Techniques

In addition to direct database exporting of citations, RefWorks offers a tool that will try to scan and parse the page you are on, whether that is a database or a web site, and import its citation information into RefWorks. To install this tool, click on on button that looks like three dots stacked on top of each other, and then click Tools

Picture of the Tools menu option

2. Click on Install Save to RefWorks.

3. Drag the bookmarklet to the bookmark bar in your browser.

4. Now, whenever you want to try to save something to RefWorks from a database or webpage, just click on this button in your bookmark bar and RefWorks will open a panel and try to pull the information needed for a citation.

Animation of installing Save to Refworks by dragging the bookmarklet from the page into the bookmark bar

This tool works better on some databases than others, but it's always worth a try because of how seamless it is when it works!

Picture of the edit button to edit a citationTo edit a citation in RefWorks to correct or add information, simply:

1. Click on the citation you want to edit. A panel will appear on the right side of the screen.

2. Click the pencil button on the upper right. 

3. Edit the information! (You can even add the PDF full text here by dragging and dropping it right onto the panel).

RefWorks has citation styles that include annotations. To add an annotation to one of your citations, just:

1. click on it and then click the pencil icon  in the upper right corner of the info panel that appears.

2. You will see a field labeled Abstract. This particular citation is for a book found in WorldCat. WorldCat automatically filled the Abstract field with a table of contents for the book. Articles from databases often have the abstract from the database here.

Picture of a citation with a long table of contents in the abstract field

Replace whatever is in this field with your own annotation and click Save at the top of the panel.

3. Now when you create a bibliography and choose a style that includes "Annotated with Abstracts," your bibliography will include your annotation.

Picture of a custom annotation in the abstract field, as it appears in a complete citation

The latest version of RefWorks emphasizes saving and working with the full text of articles in addition to their citations. When you export from a database, RefWorks should automatically scan for PDF full text and include it if available. (Tip: we've found that grabbing the full text works most reliably when using the Save to RefWorks bookmarklet). 

Picture of the checkbox for the option, "we found a link to the full text, try to save it?"

Once the full text has been saved, all you have to is click on the citation in RefWorks, and the full text will be available in the information panel that opens on the right. Just click Read to read the full text, and even annotate it with your own highlighting and comments!

Picture of highlighting and annotations in the full-text view inside RefWorks

You can also add the full text to an existing citation by clicking the Edit button (looks like a pencil) in the top right corner of the information panel, and then just dragging the PDF file to the box that says Drop file here:

Picture of the "Drop File Here" box for uploading documents

This box also show up when you add a brand new citation manually: if you drop the PDf there RefWorks will try to identify it using it's behind-the-scenes Summon database; if it gets a match it will fill in the citation information for you!

To share a folder of citations with another RefWorks user, click Sharing in the left sidebar.

Picture of the Sharing menu option

Click Share a Folder.

Picture of the Share a Folder menu option

A box will pop up with a menu that will allow you to choose the folder to share and enter the email addresses of anyone you want to invite (they will need to have their own RefWorks account).

Picture of the dialog box for setting Sharing Settings for a folder

If you choose Only invited people may access, the folder will only be shared with people of your choice. If you choose Anyone within your organization may join this folder, then anyone at Gonzaga will be able to see it in the Folders at Gonzaga University collection in the Sharing sidebar.

Can read means that the person you share the folder with can only view the citations and read the PDFs. Can annotate means that they can also make comments and highlights on the PDFs. Can modify means that they can also edit citations and add or delete citations from the folder.

Can't figure out how to export a citation from a particular database to RefWorks? Try finding your database in this list:


ACM Digital Library

ACM Online Guide to Computing Literature

ACS (American Chemical Society) Website

Agricola (USDA National Agricultural Library)

Annual Reviews


ASCE Research Library

Association for Asian Studies (AAS)

Biblioteca Nacional de España


BioMed Central


Blackwell Synergy (British Medical Journal Online)

Books In Print


CAB Direct


Cambridge Journals Online

Chadwyck Healey

China Academic Journals

China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI)

CIOS (Communication Institute for Online Scholarship)

CISTI Source

Cochrane Library (The)



CQ Press


Credo Reference


Current Contents Connect

Current Index to Statistics






EBSCOhost EJS (Electronic Journals Service)

EI Engineering Village 2



ERIC (Education Resources Information Center)

FIS Bildung

FIZ Technik

GALE InfoTrac Web

Google Scholar




Highwire Press


IEEE/ IEE Electronic Library

IEEE/ Xplore

IET Digital Library


Informaworld (Taylor & Francis)


IOP Axiom

IxTheo (Index Theologicus)

Jahrbuch Database Electronic Research Archive for Mathematics

Japana Centra Revuo Medicina (医中誌 WEB)



LEA Online (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.)

Lexis/ Nexis

Library of Congress


MathSciNet (AMS)



NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)




NISC Biblioline

NLM Gateway

NLM LocatorPlus


OCLC FirstSearch

OCLC WorldCat (Beta)

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD)


Ovid AutoAlerts

Oxford Music Online



Project Muse

ProQuest Academic

ProQuest Dialog

ProQuest Digital Dissertations

PsycINFO Direct ( APA Website)






Reference Sight


RLG Eureka


Sage Journals Online


SciFinder Scholar

SciFinder Web


Scitation (American Institute of Physics)


SilverPlatter WebSPIRS Version 5

Social Sciences in Forestry


SPIE - Digital Library



SSRN (Social Science Research Network)






Transportation Research Information Services TRIS

University of California Press


Web of Science (Thomson Reuters)

Wiley Online Library

WilsonWeb - H.W. Wilson Company


ZMATH: Zentralblatt MATH


 WorldCat has an option to export citations directly to RefWorks, but for reasons unknown it doesn't work. Fortunately, there's a workaround:

1. In the record of the book or item you want to cite, click the  (Export) button in the top row of buttons. 

2. In the options that appear, choose Text File instead of RefWorks. This will download a tiny file to your computer.

 Picture of the Worldcat Export options, with "Text File" selected

3. In RefWorks, click the + button at the top of the screen and choose Import References.

Picture of the Refworks menu for adding citations manually

4. Upload the text file that was downloaded to your computer earlier. RefWorks won't be able to reognize the file format, and will ask you to tell it what it is. Type WorldCat into the search box and select OCLC FirstSearch [WorldCat]. Then click Import.

Picture of the Refworks dialog box for uploading reference files

5. You're done!

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