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    Getting Started with RefWorks

    RefWorks is located on the internet at



    Browser Requirements

    • Microsoft Edge
    • Latest versions of Firefox (Windows, Mac, and Linux)
    • Latest versions of Safari (Mac)
    • Latest versions of Google Chrome
    • Internet Explorer Version 10.0 or later (Windows only, switch to the latest version for a better experience)

    RefWorks will discontinue Internet Explorer browser certification on July 1, 2021. Microsoft recommends using Microsoft Edge as the default browser and supports Internet Explorer 11 for backward compatibility. Internet Explorer 11 is the last major version of Internet Explorer. For more details see Microsoft: Lifecycle FAQ - Internet Explorer and Edge. The Word add-ons RefWorks Citation Manager and Write-n-Cite will continue to be certified for Internet Explorer 11 as long as Microsoft will require its installation on older Windows versions. For more details see Microsoft: Browser used by Office Add-ins.

    • Using a browser extension for content filtering and ad blocking may block RefWorks.
    • RefWorks is compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (U.S.)

    Creating an Account

    In addition to creating a RefWorks account directly on the RefWorks website, you can create a RefWorks account by:

    • Selecting a link on your institution's site and following the on-screen instructions. If you are not currently at your institution, you may need to enter an access code provided to you by your institution.
    • Selecting a personal link sent to you in an email from your institution (or pasting the link into a web browser) and following the on-screen instructions (see Managing Users). This link is for one-time use; if you select the link and do not complete the registration, ask your institution for a new link.
    To create a RefWorks account on the RefWorks website:
    1. On the login page, select Create account. The Start Using RefWorks page displays.


      Start Using Refworks
    2. Enter your email address and select Check to see if your institution has enabled RefWorks. If it has not enabled RefWorks, contact your librarian or administrator about having RefWorks enabled for your institution. If you already have an account, try logging in (see Logging In and Logging Out).
    3. If your institution has enabled single sign-on (Shibboleth/Open Athens), you can enable single sign-on for your account. If you are already logged into your institution's network with single sign-on, you do not have to enter any credentials to log in to RefWorks. Select your institution in Use login from my institution. The Welcome to RefWorks page displays (see the next step).

      Otherwise, enter a password, confirm your agreement for RefWorks to collect certain information about you for the purposes of managing your account, and select Sign Up. Ex Libris sends you an activation email. Open the URL in the email. The Welcome to RefWorks page displays.

    4. Enter your details and follow the on-screen instructions to complete your registration. You are logged in to your new account.


      Welcome to RefWorks

    Logging In and Logging Out

    To log in to RefWorks:

    If you have single sign-on configured for your account and are already logged into your institution's network, on the login page select your institution in Use login from my institution.

    Otherwise, enter your email address and password and select Sign In.

    If you forgot your password, select Forgot your password? and follow the on-screen instructions, or contact your administrator for assistance.

    To log out of RefWorks:

    Select Log out from the user menu.

    The RefWorks User Interface

    When you first log in to RefWorks, your home page displays with a focus on the Last Imported tab.


    Home Page

    The RefWorks UI contains:

    • Top Navigation – Includes the Project, language menu, user menu (your user name), and help menu.
    • Main Navigation – Includes the main menu with various actions, depending on the page you are currently working in (the tab you selected in the left sidebar):
      • Add – Opens a menu with the following actions:
        • Upload document – Browse your computer's files for a file to upload to RefWorks as a reference. See Uploading Files as References.
        • Import references – Upload a reference file that you previously exported from legacy RefWorks or another reference management service. See Importing References.
        • Create new reference – Manually create a new reference. See Manually Adding References.
      • Assign to Folder – Add or remove the currently selected references to or from folders. This can also be used to add a local copy of a reference in a shared folder to your list of references. A single reference can be in multiple folders. See Organizing References by Folders.
      • Share – Opens a menu with the following actions:
      • Create Bibliography – Opens a menu with the following actions:
      • Delete – Opens a menu with options that depend on the tab you are currently viewing. The possible tabs are:
        • My Folders > [folder name] – Remove from Folder: Remove references from the folder, but do not delete them, Delete: delete the references and move them to the Deleted tab (trash).
        • All Documents, Last Imported, or My Folders > Not in FolderDelete: delete the references and move them to the Deleted tab (trash).
        • Deleted (trash) – Empty Trash, Delete Selected: Purge (permanently remove) references from RefWorks, along with their associated uploaded files (if any).
      • Undo (Deleted tab only) – Restore deleted references and remove them from the Deleted tab.
      • Add Tags – Add or remove tags from references. See Organizing References by Tags.
      • Tools – Opens a menu with the following actions:
      • Search – Search your references. See Viewing Your References and RefWorks Reference Fields and Types.
    • Center Pane – When you select a menu option or a sidebar tab, the page appears in this pane.
    • Left Sidebar – This sidebar contains tabs that provide quick access to your references. See Viewing Your References. These tabs are:
      • All References – All of your references
      • Search Databases – Replaces the Main Navigation area with a search bar to search for items in external databases. See Finding Citations to Add to RefWorks.
      • Last imported – The references added in the last 30 days.
      • Sharing – Share a folder or view shared reference folders. See Sharing References and Working with Shared References.
      • My Folders – Your references by folder, including those that are not in any folder. A single reference can be in multiple folders. Also enables you to manage your folders. See Organizing References by Folders.
      • Tags – Your references by tag. A single reference can have multiple tags. A tag is created when you add it for the first time to any reference, or if it assigned to a reference in a folder shared with you. A tag is removed when it is no longer associated with any of your references (including in any shared folders). See Organizing References by Tags.
      • Deleted (trash) – References you have deleted. References that you delete from this tab are permanently removed from RefWorks.
    • Right Sidebar (hidden unless a reference is in focus or you are creating a reference) – Manually create a reference or view the reference that is currently in focus. You can also edit a reference that is in focus.
      • When enabled by your institution (see Configuring Site Settings), when viewing a reference that has available electronic access to the reference you can access it from this sidebar. This may be full-text or partial access to the reference within the library or on an external site, or the uploaded file.

    Managing Your Account

    Configuring Basic Information

    You can configure the following items in your account:

    • User interface language – Select the language in the language menu. The labels in the UI update to the selected language.
      New features are developed in English. It may take time before their labels are translated to other languages.
    • The following information can be configured on the Settings page (select Settings in the user menu):
      • First and last name
      • Email address
      • User role – This field is used by your institution for reporting.
      • Whether you receive product update emails from the RefWorks team
      • Whether your exports are downloaded in legacy or new RefWorks format
      • Custom fields – These fields are configurable for all of your references and are available when manually adding or editing a reference; see Manually Adding References and Editing References. You can add and delete custom fields here, and you can also add them when manually adding or editing a reference. You can also search for references using these custom fields; see Viewing Your References.


        Custom Fields
        You cannot delete a custom field that is currently in use in any reference. Hover your mouse over the field and select the link that appears to view all references that are currently using the field. 
      • Password – Even if you use single sign-on and do not require a password, you may require a password if you connect other applications with your RefWorks account. See the on-screen instructions for more information.

    Configuring Synchronization with Dropbox

    When enabled by your institution (see Configuring Site Settings) you can synchronize RefWorks with Dropbox, in which case RefWorks automatically makes copies of your uploaded citations in your Dropbox account. When you remove citations from RefWorks, RefWorks removes them from Dropbox.

    To configure synchronization with Dropbox:

    On the Settings page (select Settings from the user menu) select Connect from the Dropbox section.

    You are redirected to Dropbox's login page. Follow any on-screen instructions to complete the configuration. You are asked to give RefWorks permission to create a folder in your Dropbox called ProQuest RefWorks in your Apps folder. This is where RefWorks places copies of your citations.

    You can remove the synchronization at any time. Removing the synchronization does not remove any items that are currently in your Dropbox account.

    Configuring Single Sign-On (Shibboleth/Open Athens)

    If single sign-on is not already configured for your account, you can configure it at any time.

    You can only configure single sign-on if it is enabled for your institution.
    To configure single sign-on:

    On the Settings page (select Settings from the user menu) select Associate account from the Shibboleth section. If this section does not exist on the Settings page, single sign-on is not enabled for your institution.

    You are redirected to your institution's login page. Follow any on-screen instructions to complete the configuration.

    You can remove single sign-on at any time.

    Reviewing Personal Data Stored by RefWorks

    To review all personal data that RefWorks stores about you, select Send me my personal data on the Settings page (select Settings from the user menu).

    Deleting Your Account

    To delete your account, select Remove my RefWorks account on the Settings page (select Settings from the user menu). Select Remove Account in the confirmation dialog box. This action cannot be undone.

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