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Managing your references: RefWorks


RefWorks is a web-based reference manager that University of Oxford members can use for free during their time at the University and as alumni. RefWorks can be used on Windows and Mac computers.

This page guides you through the key features, system requirements, and installation of the two available versions of RefWorks and provides links to further support.

Using RefWorks

RefWorks has a range of features to help you collect, organise and cite your references. You can:

  • Organise your library using folders and tags
  • Search and delete duplicate references
  • Share your references with colleagues
  • Cite your references in Microsoft Word and Google Docs using software called a plugin

RefWorks has unlimited storage and is web-based, so you can access your library of references on any computer connected to the internet. As it cannot be used offline, do consider whether this suits your working practice.

There are two versions of RefWorks running concurrently: Legacy RefWorks and ProQuest RefWorks.

ProQuest will be retiring Legacy RefWorks in June 2023. For those members of the University using Legacy RefWorks, communications will be sent in advance of this.

The Bodleian Libraries teaches and provides training materials on ProQuest RefWorks but continues to support those using the Legacy version until its retirement.

If you are new to using RefWorks, we strongly recommend using the new version, ProQuest RefWorks.

Migrating from Legacy to ProQuest RefWorks

If you would like to migrate from using the Legacy version to ProQuest RefWorks, it is important to note it is currently not possible to edit documents in ProQuest RefWorks if they have previously been used in Legacy RefWorks. We strongly recommend that you delay moving to the new version of RefWorks until any documents you are working on are complete.

To migrate your references from Legacy to ProQuest, follow the instructions on ProQuest's website:

ProQuest RefWorks can be used on Windows and Mac computers.

As ProQuest RefWorks is web-based, you need to make sure you have a web browser that is compatible. Take a look at the browser requirements for RefWorks:

To cite the references in your RefWorks library, you need to use a word processor plugin. There are plugins available for Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

For detailed system requirements, visit the web page below. If possible, we recommend using the newer Word plugin RefWorks Citation Manager, unless your version of Word is earlier than 2016, in which case you should use Write-n-Cite.

There are two ways to sign up to ProQuest RefWorks:

  1. Using your University email address and a unique password
  2. Using your Oxford Single Sign On credentials

We strongly recommend signing up to RefWorks using option one. This is because, as alumni, you can continue to use RefWorks for free but your Single Sign On will no longer work (so you will not be able to log into RefWorks using this). By registering with your University email address, you can change your email address in the settings to a personal one and continue to access RefWorks as alumni.

To sign up to RefWorks, go to the RefWorks website:

For guidance on registering an account with RefWorks, visit the RefWorks support page:

Installing the word processor plugin

To cite references from your RefWorks library in your documents, you will need to install a plugin to your word processor.

RefWorks provides plugins for Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

For Microsoft Word 2016 and later, you should use the plugin RefWorks Citation Manager. For versions of Word prior to 2016, use the plugin Write-n-Cite.

For instructions on how to install and use the Word and Google Docs plugins, visit the web pages below. Note, if you are logged into Microsoft Word with your University credentials, you may find the plugin is in a section of the Word Store called 'admin managed'.

There are a variety of ways to add references to your ProQuest RefWorks library:

  • Manual entry
  • Direct export from databases and library catalogues (including SOLO, the University of Oxford's resource discovery tool)
  • Drag and drop PDF files
  • 'Save to RefWorks' web browser plugin

Take a look at our workshop handouts for instructions on how to add references to your RefWorks library:


How do I migrate from Legacy RefWorks to ProQuest RefWorks?

Before migrating from Legacy to ProQuest RefWorks, you will need to create a ProQuest RefWorks account. Follow the instructions on ProQuest's website:

Please note, it is not possible to work on Word documents using ProQuest RefWorks if you created the document and have already added citations using legacy RefWorks. We recommend completing any documents you have started working on with Legacy RefWorks before migrating to ProQuest RefWorks.

To migrate from Legacy RefWorks to ProQuest RefWorks:

  • Sign in to ProQuest RefWorks.
  • Choose the plus icon (top left) followed by 'Import References'.
  • Choose 'Import from another reference manager' and choose 'Legacy RefWorks'.
  • Click 'Authorize'.  You will then be prompted to log in with your Legacy RefWorks account details. Your references will then be imported into ProQuest RefWorks (this may take some time if you have a lot of references).

Can I continue using RefWorks when I leave the University of Oxford?

Yes, you will be able to continue using RefWorks once you have left the University. You need to ensure you sign in with a personal email address to continue using the service as alumni rather than your University email address. You can change your email address in your account settings when logged into RefWorks. See below for further details.

If you use your Oxford Single Sign On (SSO) to log in to RefWorks, please see the section below on converting your login credentials from your SSO account to an email address.

I created an account in ProQuest RefWorks using my Single Sign On credentials and would like to change my login details so that I use a personal email address. Can I do this?

Yes. To do this:

  • When you are logged into ProQuest RefWorks, click your username in the top right hand of the webpage.
  • From the drop-down menu select ‘Settings’.
  • Click the 'Remove Credentials' button towards the bottom of the page. If you never created a password for your RefWorks account, you will be prompted to do so now. You must provide a password so you can break the single sign on affiliation.
  • Once the account is detached from your Single Sign On, you can update your email address in the ‘Email’ box.

How do I add references to my RefWorks library?

There are a variety of ways to add references to your ProQuest RefWorks library:

  • Manual entry
  • Direct export from databases and library catalogues (including SOLO, the University of Oxford's resource discovery tool)
  • Drag and drop PDFs
  • 'Save to RefWorks' web browser plugin

Take a look at our workshop handouts for instructions on how to add references to your RefWorks library:

Can I import references from another reference manager into RefWorks?

Yes. Most other reference management software products have a function to export references as a RIS file.

  • Go to your old reference manager and export all your references as a RIS file.
  • Log in to RefWorks.
  • Go to the plus button at the top left of the web page.
  • Click ‘Import references’.
  • You will be prompted to drag and drop the RIS file into the browser window or select the file from your computer.
  • Click import.

Can I save documents to RefWorks?

Yes, you are able to add full-text journal articles and book chapters to their relevant reference in RefWorks. This is a useful way to keep your references and full-text documents together in one place. You are able to add Microsoft Office, Open Office or PDF files to RefWorks. You can do this in one of two ways:

  1. In RefWorks, click the plus button at the top left of the screen to 'Add a reference', then click 'Upload a document'. This will allow you to add a document from your computer to RefWorks.
  2. Make sure that you have RefWorks open in your browser. You can drag and drop a file from your computer into the RefWorks window. A blue circle will appear in the window that says 'Drop Files here'. Once you do this, RefWorks will upload it to your account.

When you add a PDF file to RefWorks, it will automatically read the metadata from the file and create a reference for you by filling in the relevant fields such as title and author.

Can I annotate documents in RefWorks?

Yes. RefWorks offers the facility to highlight text and add comments to PDF documents you have saved in RefWorks. 

  • When you are in RefWorks and click on the reference you would like to work with, an edit pane should appear on the right of the screen.
  • In the edit window you will see an image of the PDF. Click the ‘Read’ button.
  • This will open the PDF where you will find an ‘A’ button to highlight text and a speech bubble button to insert comments.

Can I delete tags in my RefWorks library?

Yes, any tags that you create or are imported from another service can be deleted in each individual resource’s record. The functionality does not exist to delete tags from the master list.

Are the Microsoft Word plugins RefWorks Citation Manager or Write-n-Cite compatible with cloud-based programmes?

RefWorks Citation Manager, for Microsoft Word 2016 and later, is compatible with the cloud-based Microsoft Word 365.

Write-n-Cite, for versions of Word prior to 2016, is not compatible with cloud-based programmes and will need to be installed on a desktop based version of Microsoft Word. Please note that University members can download Microsoft Office from the IT Services website:

Why is Write-n-Cite not working on my computer?

Write-n-Cite is not compatible with Word 2016 and later for Macs, or Word 2019 and later for Windows. You should instead install the newer ‘RefWorks citation manager’. To download and install RefWorks for citation manager:

  • Open Microsoft Word and choose ‘Insert’ followed by ‘Store’.
  • In the Store search for RefWorks. Choose RefWorks Citation Manager and click ‘Add’.
  • A RefWorks side bar will appear on the right of your Word screen.

I can't find the RefWorks Citation Manager add-in in the Store

If you are using Office 365 and are logged into it with your Nexus credentials, you will find RefWorks Citation Manager under a tab called 'Admin Managed' in the Store search box.

There are two versions of Write-n-Cite to download, 32-bit and 64-bit. Why does my computer repeatedly produce a message stating that I have downloaded the wrong Write-n-Cite for my version of Word?

Some users may (perhaps unknowingly) have more than one version of Word installed on their computer. If these multiple versions are both 32-bit and 64-bit, this creates conflict when trying to install Write-n-Cite. Uninstall the version of Word you do not want to keep and try installing Write-n-Cite again. To find out which version of Word you have on your computer (32-bit or 64-bit):

  • MS Office 10: open Word and choose ‘File’ | ‘Help’. You will see information about Word on the right including the version number and whether its 32 or 64 bit. 
  • MS Office 2013/2016: open Word and choose ‘File’ |’Account’. You will see information about Word on the right including whether its 32 or 64 bit. If you don’t see the information click ‘About Word’.

Why is RefWorks producing an error message when I try to create a bibliography?

This happens when there is a corrupt reference in the bibliography. You will need to identify the corrupt reference and delete it. The simplest way to do this is to go to the folder from which you are trying to create a bibliography, go to 'table view', select half the references and attempt to create a bibliography. If you are able to successfully create a bibliography, repeat this process for the other half of the references and try to create a bibliography. If RefWorks is unable to create a bibliography, you know that the corrupt reference is in the second half of the folder. Repeat the process by continually dividing the references in half until you eventually find the corrupt reference.

Can I change from one referencing style to another in Word?

Yes, you are able to change citation styles in Word.

RefWorks Citation Manager:

If you are using RefWorks Citation Manager, you can select any one of the 6,500+ styles within the RefWorks Citation Manager Word plugin. In the right-hand RefWorks Citation Manager pane in Word, click the three-line hamburger menu and 'Citation Style'. Select the style you would like to use from the drop-down menu that appears.


Write-n-Cite comes with a small number of citation styles installed. To change citation style in Word, go to the RefWorks tab in the ribbon across the top of Word and in the ‘Styles’ drop-down menu, select the citation style you wish to change to.

If the citation style you want is not in the drop-down list in Word, you will need to use the style in ProQuest RefWorks to create a bibliography (even if you don’t want a bibliography. Doing this will mean RefWorks remembers it as one of your preferred styles):

  • Log on to ProQuest RefWorks.
  • Click the quotation button to 'Create Bibliography'.
  • A bibliography will appear on screen. Choose the citation style you want to add to Write-n-Cite from the style menu.
  • Now open Word and choose 'Sync My Database'. This will synchronise Write-n-Cite with your online RefWorks library. Your chosen citation style will now appear in the styles drop-down in Write-n-Cite.

Can I change how my citation appears in the text, for example add page numbers?

Yes. But, for the changes to be permanent, you must make the change in the 'Edit Citation' area of the RefWorks plugin in Word. If you make these kind of changes in the text itself, they will be overridden and disappear when the plugin syncs with RefWorks.

Can I edit referencing styles?

Yes. If a citation style you would like to use doesn’t quite match the criteria you have been asked to meet, you can edit the settings in ProQuest RefWorks:

  • In the menu ribbon across the top of RefWorks, click the quotation mark button and choose ‘Citation Style Editor’.
  • Search for the citation style you would like to change in the search box.
  • You are given options on which part of the citation style you would like to edit: the bibliography, citations or footnotes. Select the one you would like to edit.
  • You will find that you can edit how the title, authors, and publication date are shown. If the element of citation you would like to edit is not listed, there is a plus button on the right where you can add other elements such as URL and place of publication.
  • Within these elements you can state how you would like the citation to display including capitalisation, punctuation, how many authors to show, etc.
  • Once you have made the necessary changes, make sure to click ‘Save a copy’ in the top right of the page.

Can I backup my RefWorks library?

Yes. You can backup all of your references or a selection, for instance a folder of references.

  • Click the 'Share & Export' button from the toolbar at the top of the web page and select 'Export references'.
  • A pop up window will appear asking whether you want to export all or a selection of references from the current folder. It will also ask you what file format you would like to download the references as, BibTeX, RIS, Tab Delimited (csv.) or XML.
  • Once you have made your choice, click 'Export' and you will be prompted to save the backup file.

Need help with RefWorks?

ProQuest RefWorks workshops

To see upcoming training and handouts, webinar recordings and PowerPoint presentations on how to use RefWorks, visit our workshops page:

Contact us

For help with ProQuest and Legacy RefWorks please email

Further help

Below is a link to online help from ProQuest (part of Clarivate).

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