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RefWorks: Transitioning to a New Citation Management Program: ... to Mendeley

RefWorks is a web-based tool that helps you collect all of your references into one place, and also offers the ability to easily insert them into your paper and format the bibliography or works cited list.

Making the Change to Mendeley - Step by Step

Transitioning to Mendeley 

If you prefer to print the steps, Mendeley has put together this handy guide or you can simply follow the step below.

Before Exporting 

Just a couple of things to think about prior to exporting your RefWorks library.

  1. Do you have folders?  If so, to keep the same structure, you will need to export the contents of each folder individually instead of exporting All References.  This means a few extra clicks, but not a big deal.
  2. Do you have attachments?  If so, they will not export at all.  If you have them saved somewhere - on your computer, a network drive, or elsewhere - then simply attach them from that location.  Otherwise, you will need to download them one-by-one from RefWorks and then they can be added to Mendeley in a batch and Mendeley will match and attach them to the record in Mendeley.

Exporting - the Steps

Once logged in to RefWorks, and based on your decision in item #1 above, you can follow these steps for exporting your references either as All References or by folders.

  • Log in to your RefWorks account.
  • Select the folder to export or leave on All References.
  • Use the References tab and click Export.
  • Check for the right folder name or All References and the other setting should be "All in List."
  • The default "Bibliographic Software ..." is the right option.
  • Click on Export References.
  • If a new tab does not open, the look for the "Completed" popup box in the lower right corner of the browser.
  • Use the first "click here" link.
  • A new tab will open with all of your citations in a tagged text format (not so pretty to read).
  • Click on "Save Page As" (from either the File menu or from the right click menu).
  • Give the file a location & name.
  • The default type of .txt or text file is what you want.
  • Click on Save.

Go to Mendeley Desktop (not the web version)

  • Click on File & then Add Files.
  • Navigate to where your file is located & select it.
  • Click Open

Your citations are added very quickly.  If you want confirmation, look for the Recently Added link.



While there is not a direct way to get them out of RefWorks, there is a way to have Mendeley process them all at once.  

  • Use the File .. Add Files just like above.
  • Navigate to where you have the PDFs stored.
  • Click Open and Mendeley will attach the PDFs to records in your library.


Same as image above.

Some PDFs will create duplicate records, so clean them up right after attaching them.

  • Click on Recently Added
  • Click on Tools ... Check for Duplicates.
  • It will find any that might be duplicates.

Merge the duplicates

  • Do a quick scan of the list to verify they are truly duplicates and not similar versions of the article. 
  • When ready, click Confirm Merge to combine the documents into just one record.
  • A "Not a Duplicate" button is available for ones that you find as not duplicative.