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Getting Started with RefWorks

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RefWorks 2.0 Hands On Workshop Exercise
Document to Demonstrate Write-N-Cite III
What is RefWorks?
How do you get an account?
What do you do first?
How do you get citations into RefWorks?
Database Specific Import Instructions
How do you make a formatted bibliography from your citations?
How To Use RefWorks to cite in text
Remember to Check RefWorks’ Output for Accuracy
A Note on APA Style
RefWorks Support Documentation
Find Out More

What is RefWorks?
RefWorks is bibliographic management software. Users can import and organize citations found in online databases and format them in papers, reference lists and bibliographies using the citation style of their choice. Citations not found in a database can be entered manually. RefWorks runs from the Web, and is therefore available from any computer with Web access.

RefWorks recently came out with a new version, RefWorks 2.0. We are just starting to learn and teach it here in the Library.  

How do you get an account?
The library provides RefWorks access for NPS students, staff, faculty, contractors and Alumni. From the Library's home page, go to the Search Databases page and click on the RefWorks link at the top. Once you click on the RefWorks link, if you are not on campus you will be prompted to log into the proxy server using your library account information (your PIN is written on the back of your library card).

Once you are in RefWorks, click on the link to "sign up for an individual account." If you are off campus, you will need the "Subscriber Group Code." Please contact Research Assistance for the group code, if needed. As noted below, once you set up your own individual account you will receive an e-mail confirmation message that includes our group code, so you can make a note of it for future reference.

What do you do first?
Create an account for yourself, as described above. You will receive an e-mail confirmation message that includes our "Subscriber Group Code" (required for off-campus access).

After creating your own individual account, we suggest that you set up at least one folder, to hold the citations you find. You can name your folder(s) according to topic, the name of a class or project, or any other name of your choosing. Here are the steps for starting a folder to store your found citations in RefWorks:

Log in to your RefWorks account with your new login

Set up a folder for your references by going to Folders>Create New Folder. Name your folder.

How do you get citations into RefWorks?
There are many methods for getting citations into your RefWorks account. The method used depends on where you find the citation. Although RefWorks works seamlessly with some databases, websites and other search tools, others require a different strategy. A list of databases and how they work with RefWorks is posted here.

The strategies for populating your RefWorks folders are described below. All are also explained in detail in the RefWorks help files, located at in Contents under Building Your Database.

Direct Export is available from several online databases, such as ProQuest. When you find citations you'd like to keep, "mark" or "tag" them by whatever method is called for (usually a checkbox), then prepare to "save" or "export" them. Look for an option to "Export to RefWorks". A list of databases that we subscribe to that use direct export is listed here with instructions.

Creating a text file to Import into RefWorks: When Direct Export is not available, RefWorks has developed "filters" so that it can process the output of other database vendors. In the database you are using, look for a link to export/save to bibliographic citation management software, and follow the instructions. In some databases you may need to save your citations (or list of selected citations) as text files. Either way, once you have created a file with your selected citations you will then need to open up RefWorks, log into your account, and and import them to your RefWorks account using a RefWorks Import filter. To do this, go to References>Import. For the Import Filter/Data Source, select Naval Postgraduate School, and for the Database, use the pulldown menu to specify which database the file you want to import was created from. A list of databases that we subscribe to that use this method is listed here with instructions.

Tip: If there is an export/save option for EndNote in the database you are searching, you can use that and then once you are in RefWorks you can use Refer Format as the Import Filter/Data Source and EndNote as the Database.

For more help with using this method, from the RefWorks help Contents, select Building your Database, then Importing from a Text File.

Tip: Most citation styles require you to identify the database from which you retrieved the citation, and the date on which you accessed it. RefWorks does not automatically insert this information into each reference. Rather than manually editing each reference, you can use the Global Edit feature. If you import each new batch of citations into your Last Imported Folder, do a Global Edit before moving them into the folder of your choice. From within the Last Imported folder, click on Global Edit . Select the records you want to edit using the Selected, Page, or All in List button. Then choose the field you want to edit (for example, Database or Retrieved Date), then in the Change Field to: box enter the name of the database, the date, or whatever is appropriate for the field you select. You will also need to change the Source Type field to electronic for materials in electronic format. Generally you will want to Append to Existing Data. Then hit OK. All of the records that you selected will immediately be updated.

An Easy Alternative Way to Put Book Citations into RefWorks: From the RefWorks Search pull down menu, select the Online Catalog or Database option. In the box for Online Database to Search, select either Library of Congress or MELVYL – University of California. Conduct your search. You can then mark those that are of interest and import them to any of your RefWorks folders.

Capturing Web Page Data Using RefGrab-It: Instead of manually entering information from a web page into RefWorks, you can use RefGrab-It, a RefWorks browser plug-in. To learn more about and install RefGrab-It, from the RefWorks menu bar, go to Tools/RefGrab-It.

Adding References Manually: The last resort. This is the strategy to use for references that you find using databases that don't work with RefWorks using one of the two methods above. You will also need to use this method to enter references to personal interviews, and other references which can't be found in an online database. To enter a reference manually, go to References>Add New Reference. Use the drop down menu to select the style you are most likely to use and the reference type, then either cut and paste or manually enter the information into the appropriate fields. Once you select a style and Ref Type, RefWorks places a red asterisk next to each field that is required for a complete citation.

A list of databases that we subscribe to that do NOT work with RefWorks (and that will therefore require manual entry into RefWorks) are listed here. Please note that it is often easier to find your article citations in an alternative database that DOES work with RefWorks than it is to manually enter the citations yourself.

For more help with using this method, from the RefWorks help Contents, select Building your Database, then Adding References Manually.

Database Specific Import Instructions

RefWorks can be used successfully with many of the databases available through Dudley Knox Library. An annotated list of the databases we subscribe to, and how they work with RefWorks is available here.

How do you make a formatted bibliography from your citations?
You can make a formatted bibliography of references in a folder at any time. From the RefWorks menu options along the top, select Bibilography. Select your desired Output Style (APA, Chicago, Turabian, or any of a wide array of choices). Select Format a Bibliography from a List of References. Select the File Type to Create. Click on the "References from" button, then use the pull down menu to select a folder. Then click on Create Bibliography.

How do you use RefWorks to cite references in the text of papers?
RefWorks provides a feature called “Write-N-Cite” which enables you to incorporate references (parenthetical or footnote) into your manuscript observing the rules for whatever style (APA, Turabian, Chicago, etc.) you choose. In order to use Write-N-Cite, you will need to download a small plug-in. To download the Write-N-Cite Plug In, log in to RefWorks, and from the Tools pull-down menu, select Write-N-Cite. You will see the option to start the download.

To learn how to use Write-N-Cite, from the same page where you had the option to download it, you will see a link to “Click here” for more information. Clicking on that link brings you to a nice tutorial.

Note 1: For a workaround in situations where you can not download the plug-in, see our our RefWorks FAQ or go directly to the RefWorks help page on Using One Line/Cite View.

Note 2: You should save your Word documents as .doc files instead of .docx files. The RefWorks coding can become corrupted in .docx files.

Remember to Check RefWorks’ Output for Accuracy
As we explain in class, it is very important that you check the documents that RefWorks generates. We have many of the style manuals (APA, Turabian, Chicago, MLA) in the Research Assistance Office and in the reference collection on the first floor. There are also many excellent web sites you can consult. Some of these are listed on our Citation Styles web page.

A Note on APA Style
In 2007 APA significantly modified their rules for citing electronic references. The basics are described on the APA web site at If you contact we can email you a pdf file of the APA Style Guide to Electronic References, which has many examples of how to cite electronic resources using their new rules. (Due to licensing restrictions we can only provide this document to NPS students, faculty, staff and contractors).

RefWorks’ APA citations for electronic resources reflect the new rules. However, sometimes there are glitches, and the rules are somewhat confusing, so it is very important to double-check all APA electronic references RefWorks generates.

RefWorks Support Documentation

Introduction to RefWorks
Using the New Write-N-Cite
RefWorks Classic Quickstart Guide
RefWorks Fundamentals User Workbook
RefWorks Advanced Features User Workbook

RefWorks 2.0 Quickstart Guide
RefWorks 2.0 Fundamentals Workbook

RefWorks Support & Training site
Includes links to their training materials (click on the Resource Center) and to their webinar schedule.  These webinars are open to all NPS students, faculty and staff.

RefWorks YouTube Channel
Includes links to RefWorks training videos.

Write-N-Cite 4 (Mac)
Scholars Portal


How do you find out more about using RefWorks?
RefWorks offers a step-by-step tutorial, located on their webpage at

We offer RefWorks workshops every quarter (here on campus). See the current library workshops calendar.  (Tip: these classes are popular.  Sign up early.)

If you'd like to speak with a librarian, contact Research Assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions
RefWorks users ask good questions. You can view our growing FAQ.
Revised: 09/14/2006

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