UCB Libraries


How do I... switch from RefWorks to Zotero?


  • Get Started
  • Exporting from RefWorks
  • Using Zotero
  • Help


What is happening to RefWorks?

After careful consideration, the Libraries have decided to cancel our subscription to RefWorks. All users will need to move their citations to an alternative software by May 2015. 


We advise that you export and save a copy of your data in a format that is compatible with other bibliographic software.


Alternatively, you can have the option to migrate your RefWorks account into Flow.  Look for the "Move to Flow" link at the top left of the screen after you log into your RefWorks account.


If you would prefer to use another tool, RefWorks offers several export options that you can use with other programs. Options (available in Tools/Export References) are: 

  • Bibliographic Software (EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager).  Saves the database in a tagged format that can import into another bibliographic management program. It is the format sometimes called the RIS Format or Reference Manager Format and can be imported into Mendeley, Zotero, or other programs that support the RIS format, for example: Reference Manager, ProCite, EndNote
  • BibTeX – RefWorks ID.  Saves the database in the file format for use with the LaTeX document preparation system
  • Citation List.   Creates a list to use when writing your paper offline. The format includes the RefID, Authors Primary, Title Primary, and Publication Year only.  This format is probably not usable by another bibliography manager
  • Tab Delimited.  Saves all your data in an organized manner with each field separated by a tab. It may then be loaded into other programs that are designed to read this type of format.
  • XML. Use this format to create your export file in an XML format.


Updated 11/25/14 JEK

RefWorks can not export your folder structure. If your citations are organized in folder, export your folders one at a time. (It's much faster than it sounds.)


There is an excellent video here on how to export your citations from RefWorks to Zotero:



 RefWorks cannot export your attachments. If you have files attached to your citations, you will need to download them and reattach them in Zotero.


Zotero recommends using "RefWorks Tagged" as the transfer format on RefWorks, but this does involve two more steps. The choice is yours ;)


Do I have to use Zotero?

There are several options for citation managers. Zotero is free and shares many of the functions of RefWorks. Other options include Mendeley and Papers.

Where do I start?

Start by downloading Zotero and creating a user account here: https://www.zotero.org/.

What if I need help?

Get started at their Quick Start Guide.

Get information specifically about importing references here.

If you need additional information about switching from RefWorks to Zotero, we are happy to set up a one-on-one consultation.


Need more help or have a specific question not answered here? Ask us!