RefWorks: Advanced Tips

UNC Libraries’ subscription to RefWorks will end August 31, 2017.

Removing duplicates from RefWorks

To remove duplicates from your RefWorks library, follow these steps:

  1. Open your RefWorks account and click on View then Duplicates. There will be two options here: Exact and Close duplicates. Select the option for your needs. If you've added references from a single database, then exact duplicates should suffice. If you've added references from multiple databases or sources, then you will want to use the close duplicates in case there are small differences which would not show up on an exact duplicate search.
    Clicking on View then Duplicates in RefWorks to remove duplicates
  2. Now RefWorks will try to find the duplicates in your library. It will automatically select the first instance of a duplicate. It may be helpful to switch the view to One line/Cite View since it collapses each record into one line to make scanning through easier. Once you've ensured that you are removing duplicates then click on the X button which is noted in the screenshot below. This will delete the selected references. The duplicate page will refresh and automatically select the first instance of the duplication again.
    Removing duplicates in RefWorks

It is important to scan over the records that RefWorks selects and make sure that it only removes duplicates. If you do not do this then it is possible that you will delete references that you did not want to remove.

Why does RefWorks keep asking me for a Group Code?

Group codes are used by some institutions to help RefWorks identify a user's affiliation. When you go through the HSL's website to access RefWorks, if you are off-campus, you will have to enter your Onyen and password. This verifies that you're affiliated with UNC and will not need to enter a group code. If you go directly to RefWorks from the web, you may have to enter a group code.

To avoid  encountering this, you can either:

  1. Use the links on this web site to Login to RefWorks from off-campus, since our links verify that you're affiliated to UNC.
  2. Alternatively, you can bookmark the following address:

What is RefShare?

RefShare is a feature that allows you to easily share references and folders from your RefWorks account with colleagues both inside and outside of the UNC community. You may want to use this feature for collaborative student projects, reading lists or faculty publications lists.

To use RefShare:

  1. While logged into RefWorks, click on Tools > Share References.
  2. Choose which references you want to share by clicking "Share Entire Database" or the "Share Folder" button next to the folder you want to share.
  3. Set permissions by checking and unchecking the selections on the RefShare page. 
  4. Click the "E-mail URL" button to send the link to your shared library.

    For more detailed instructions, visit the link provided:

    Note that even if you share a folder, your collaborators will not be able to add or edit references.  If you are collaborating with others on a project and need them to be able to edit a RefWorks library, we recommend setting up a new individual account that can be accessed by all members of the group.  If you need help with this, feel free to Ask a Librarian.

    Modifying Output Styles

    You may run into a situation where you need to have a customized output style for say submission to a journal. We cannot exactly counsel you on how to do that here, but here are the basic steps that you need to go through.

    Remember do not hesitate to contact us for help with this if you're confused or unsure how to get the output style to suit your needs.

    1. Go to your RefWorks account
    2. Click on the Bibliography tab and select Output Style Editor, like so:
      Selecting Output Style Editor in RefWorks under the Bibliography option
    3. Now find the most similar output style do the one you want to use and click Edit.
      Editing an existing Output style in RefWorks
    4. Now you will need to go through and find the particular facet that you want to edit. Once you've found it, click Save As to save the output style as a copy of the original output style. In this example I am editing a copy of APA 6th Edition that I've made. If I were editing the original APA 6th Edition, I wouldn't want to remove that commonly used style for just this one submission to a journal, so I would save it as a name that make sense to me, for example perhaps APA 6th (J of Exp Psyc) so I know that I am using this citation style for submissions to the Journal of Experimental Psychology
      Editing an existing output style in RefWorks

    Moving to and from RefWorks

    Moving from RefWorks to another reference manager

    First you will need to save your RefWorks library for importing into another reference manager:

    1. Log into your RefWorks account
    2. Click on References and then Export.
    3. Be sure to select All in List if you would like to export all of your references.
    4. Select the export format of Bibliographic Software (Endnote, Reference Manager, Procite), if you want to export all of your references, and click on Export References.
    5. If a download window does not pop-up, you can right click on the click here link that should appear in the bottom right corner of your RefWorks account to be able to download the file.
      Saving the tab delimited results in Chrome
      Saving the tab delimited results in Firefox

      Internet Explorer
      Saving the tab delimited results in Internet Explorer

    Once you have this file, you can import your RefWorks references into another reference manager:


    1. Click on File then Import then File.
    2. Locate the file you saved from RefWorks and select the Reference Manager (RIS) Import Option then select Import.


    1. Click on File in Mendeley, select Import and pick any of the formats.
    2. In the window that opens, change the drop down menu on the right to All supported formats. Now locate the file you downloaded from RefWorks, select it, and press Open. Like so:
      Importing from RefWorks to Mendeley


    1. Click on the Gear icon in your Zotero window and select Import.
    2. Locate the file you saved from RefWorks and click Open.

    Moving to RefWorks from another reference manager


    1. In Endnote, click on File then Save a copy.
    2. Locate the file you saved from Endnote and in RefWorks, select Reference then Import.
    3. In the Import screen, select the From EndNote Database option, select the copy of your database and click Import. Like so:
      Importing from Endnote to RefWorks


    1. Select all the references in Mendeley (Ctrl+A in Windows, Command+A in Mac) and then click on File and then Export.
    2. Save the file in the RIS format.
    3. In RefWorks, click References then Import.
    4. Be sure to select the Import Filter/Data Source as RIS Format and the Database as RIS Format. Like so:
      Importing from Mendeley to RefWorks


    1. Click the Zotero button that looks like a gear and choose "Export Library." Choose RIS as the file type and pick a filename.
    2. In RefWorks, click References then Import.
    3. Be sure to select the Import Filter/Data Source as RIS Format and the Database as RIS Format. Like so:
      Importing from Zotero to RefWorks

    Can I use RefWorks on my iPad?

    You can access RefWorks with Safari on your iPad and import, edit, and organize references as you normally would.  Two issues you may encounter:

    1) Saving references from PubMed:  Since you cannot download text files from Safari without an app, if you try to save a text file as you normally would with PubMed it will open a new browser window that shows the text that RefWorks would normally read.  There are two ways around this:

    • Copy the text, then paste it into RefWorks to be imported.  You can get to the Import screen (shown below) from the References menu in the upper left hand corner.  Make sure to select From Text.


    RefWorks iPad

    • Alternatively, perform your PubMed search through RefWorks from the Search menu, which provides you with an easy one click direct import feature.  However, RefWorks search will not have all the advanced options than a search on the PubMed website would give you.
    • You can also use the mobile version of RefWorks, called RefMobile.  For more information about RefMobile, click here.

    2) Inserting citations into papers:  RefWorks and Write n Cite do not work with the iPad's Pages application.  If you would like to write a paper on your iPad and insert citations with RefWorks, Google Docs is an option. Elsewhere on this guide we have more instructions on getting RefWorks to work with Google Docs.

    What if I'm using a different citation manager, not RefWorks?

    Switching to RefWorks from Another Citation Manager: Using another citation manager, like EndNote, Zotero, or Mendeley, and want to switch over to RefWorks?  This guide from the HSL takes you through the process step-by-step.

    I'm having problems downloading citations from databases into RefWorks. Help!

    1. Be sure to be logged into your RefWorks account before attempting to export citations from databases. Logging in beforehand will ensure you do not have to duplicate steps
    2. Your browser. Safari is often the culprit.  It is recommended that you use Firefox as your primary browser for all things RefWorks-related.  If you don't currently have Firefox installed on your computer, you can download it for free by clicking here. Try repeating these tasks in Firefox and see if this solves the problem.
    3. Pop-Ups. Many databases pop-open a new window to directly export the citation(s) to RefWorks, you may need to enable pop-ups.

    Using RefWorks and Excel

    You may want to output the contents of your database to Excel so you can keep notes on the references. This is very useful when doing systematic reviews. To do this follow these steps:

    1. Go to your RefWorks account, click on References, then on Export.
      Outputting RefWorks records to Excel by clicking on References then Export
    2. Next select the Export format of Tab Delimited, which can be easily imported into Excel
      Selecting tab delimited as an export format
    3. RefWorks may attempt to open another window with the tab delimited references. If it does so, then close that window. You want to use the Export Complete window that appears in the bottom right side of the screen in your RefWorks account. There is a link in that window that will allow you to save the results as a text file.
      Completed Export of references using the tab delimited format and the save dialoge in RefWorks
    4. Your browser should allow you to right click on that link to save the results. What you need to select varies by the browser that you're using, but here are some examples from popular browsers:
      Saving the tab delimited results in Chrome
      Saving the tab delimited results in Firefox

      Internet Explorer
      Saving the tab delimited results in Internet Explorer
    5. After saving the file, open Excel, click on the Data tab then select Get External Data from Text
      Importing tab delimited data in Microsoft Excel
    6. Now select the Delimited data type and click Next
      Importing tab delimited data in Microsoft Excel by selecting Delimited and clicking Next
    7. Now be sure you select the Tab Delimiter and now click on Finish
      Selecting the tab delimited data type in Microsoft Excel
    8. Now your references are in Excel for you to use!
      Tab delimited data from RefWorks into Excel

    Is RefWorks compatible with my web browser?

    RefWorks is compatible with the following web browsers:

    • Firefox 3.X and later
    • Internet Explorer 7.0 and later
    • Safari 3 and later (Note: RefGrab-It does not work with Safari)
    • Google Chrome (Note: RefGrab-It does not work with Chrome)

    In general, RefWorks works best with Firefox. If you are having difficulty using RefWorks with any of the other browsers, try using Firefox and see if that clears up your difficulties.

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