Citation Management with RefWorks


There are several methods for getting citations into your RefWorks account. The method used depends on where you find the citation. Although RefWorks works seamlessly with many databases, websites and other search tools, others require a different strategy. 

Enable Direct Import from Google Scholar

  • In Google Scholar Click on Settings
  • In the Bibliography manager section select RefWorks from the Show links to import citations into drop-down menu
  • Click on Save Preferences
  • From your search results click on Import into RefWorks for each record you want to import

Importing Options

Direct Import
Many databases have the option to directly send citations to RefWorks. Mark the records you want to export and look for an option to "Export to RefWorks." 

If a new browser tab opens with the RefWorks login you will need to login to RefWorks again to complete the import. If you try to edit your records in this new tab you will get an error message. Instead edit your records in the original tab that you used to log in.


Import PDF
When a database does not have a direct export option you can create a text file of citations that you can then import into RefWorks. In the database you are using, mark the records you want to export and look for a link to export/save citations as a text file. Once you have created a file with your selected citations you will then need to log into your RefWorks account and import them using a RefWorks Import filter.

  • From the References menu click on Import
  • From the Import Filter/Data Source menu select Dudley Knox library, Naval Postgraduate School
  • From the Database menu select the database you are importing the records from

Capturing From a Website

You can use Save to RefWorks, a RefWorks browser plug-in to capture citation information from a website.

  • From the Tools menu click on Install Save to RefWorks
  • Drag the Save to RefWorks button to your browsers favorites bar.
  • When you are on a website that you want to capture the information for, click on the Save to RefWorks link in your bookmarks.

Manual Entry

To add a citation manually:

  • Click on the Add a reference button (+)
  • Click on Create new reference
  • From the Reference Type menu select the format of the material you are citing

Importing an unformatted bibliography into RefWorks

In a word processing document:

  • Separate each reference with two carriage returns
  • Select and copy the citations
  • Go to MakeBib
  • Paste your citations into the text box
  • Click on the Make BibTeX source button
  • Copy the BibTeX-encoded text and paste it into a plain text document

In RefWorks:

  • Click on the  + character
  • Click on Import references
  • Drag and drop or select the plain text document you created
  • Search for and select BibTEX as the file format
  • Select Bibdesk (BibTex format) in the databases dropdown menu
  • Click the Import button
  • Review the citations and make any needed corrections

Error Message When Editing a Reference

When you import a citation from a licensed library database, you may encounter this error message if you try to edit the citation information. 

error message

If this happens, simply open a new tab in your browser and go to and log in again. You will be able to edit the reference in the new tab.