Skip to the content of the web site.

Ask a Librarian: via chat, in person, email or phone

Subject Guides • Library Guides

RefWorks - Getting Started

Library Guide
No. x.x

If you have already set up your RefWorks account, log in to RefWorks.

Do you need to set up an account?

What is RefWorks?

RefWorks is a web-based personal bibliographic software manager which is accessible anywhere in the world. It can help you collect and manage citations of books, journal articles, websites, etc. It can also assist you in creating bibliographies in over 200 citation styles, such as MLA, APA, Chicago, etc. A separate add-on module, Write-N-Cite, allows you to create a document in MS Word and dynamically enter citations from your RefWorks database, with your document and bibliography automatically generated in the chosen citation style.

RefWorks is provided and maintained by the University of Waterloo Library through a co-operative arrangement with the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL).

Questions and comments should be addressed to your liaison librarian.

Who can use RefWorks?

All current students, faculty, and staff at the University of Waterloo can use RefWorks.

System Requirements


Since RefWorks is web-based, there is no software to download or install. It is compatible with both PC and Mac systems and works best with IE 5.0 (or higher) and Netscape 7.0 (or higher).


To use Write-N-Cite, you will have to download and install the Write-N-Cite plug-in. (For instructions on this process, please see the Write-N-Cite guide.) Write-N-Cite is compatible ONLY with the Windows operating system and MS Word.

Getting Help with RefWorks

For assistance using RefWorks, contact your liaison librarian, sign up for a workshop (Fall and Winter Terms), or consult one of the following:

Creating a RefWorks account

  1. You MUST be at a UW IP-authenticated computer (i.e., you must be on campus or have connected to UW via the Proxy Server).
  2. From the Library's homepage, click on the RefWorks button.
  3. Ensure that the login screen says "University of Waterloo".
  4. Click on the link "Sign up for an individual account".
  5. Create a username and password and fill in the required information.
  6. Once your information is submitted, you will have access to RefWorks.
  7. You will receive an e-mail confirmation of your username and password. Please save this e-mail as it contains the group code for UW which is required if you want to access your RefWorks account from off-campus or when not connected via the Proxy Server.

Setting up your RefWorks database

You can set up multiple folders in your RefWorks database and each folder can contain as many references as you like.

  1. Mouseover "Folders."
  2. Click on "Create New Folder."
  3. Enter a name for the folder.
  4. Click "OK."

Putting References into your RefWorks Database

There are three methods of putting references into your database:

  1. Export references directly from a journal index (several major publishers have this ability, including CSA, EBSCO, and ProQuest).
  2. Import references from a text file created in a journal index or database.
  3. Enter references manually.

For information for specific journal indexes to which UW subscribes, please consult the guide, Putting Citations into RefWorks.

Generating a Bibliography

  1. Click on the "Bibliography" tab.
  2. Choose your desired output style.
  3. Select "Format a Bibliography from a List of References."
  4. Choose the "File Type to Create."
  5. Select "All References" or "References from Folder" (choose the folder from the dropdown menu).
  6. Click on "Create Bibliography."

For assistance enquire at one of the Information Desks or consult the Ask a Librarian Web page at:

Library Guide, No. x.x RefWorks - Getting Started
Copyright © University of Waterloo

Liaison Librarian
Sandra Keys (Accountancy and Business & Entrepreneurship)

Last Updated: October 31, 2005