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Migrating from RefWorks to Zotero

Getting started

1. Register for a Zotero account, and download Zotero. See our Zotero instructions for more detailed set-up information. 

2. Log in to your RefWorks account.

3. Ask yourself two questions: 

  • Does your RefWorks folder structure matter? 
    and
  • Do you have more than 500 references?

If you don't have folders set up, and you have fewer than 500 references, you can export all of your references at once.

If you would like to maintain your folder structure post-migration, and/or you have more than 500 references, you should export one folder at a time

Don't forget to export your "Not in folder" folder. 

Need to export more than 500 references? Learn how to create folders.

Exporting a folder from RefWorks

​If you want to keep your folder structure, and/or you have more than 500 references, this export strategy is best for you.

​1 - 3. Follow the "getting started" instructions, above. 

4. In your RefWorks account, choose one of your folders from the menu on the right side of the page. 

5. Hover your mouse over the "References" tab in the top left corner. Click on "export."

6. Choose to export "All in List," and select the "Bibliographic Software (EndNote, Reference Manager, ProCite)" export format. Once you have selected both of those things, click "Export References."

7. At this point, a new tab should open up with your references in a list (like the image below). If it does, proceed to Step 8. 

No new tab? Check the bottom right corner of your browser for this window:

Follow the first set of instructions: "click here" because you didn't receive a file download prompt. You should then have the page with your references in a list. 

8. Right click and choose "Save as...," OR click "File" and then "Save page as"

9. Save the file as a .txt file. 

10. Open Zotero Standalone. Click on the gear in the middle of the top menu bar. Click on "Preferences..."

11. Inside Zotero Preferences, click on the "Sync" tab. Then input your Zotero username and password. Once you're done, click "OK."

12. Click on the gear again. This time, click on "Import..." 

13. Choose which file to import:

Zotero will automatically create a folder to put your imported references in. 

14. Sync Zotero. 

15. Repeat steps 4-14 until all of your folders have been migrated. Don't forget your "Not in folder" folder!

Congratulations, you're done!

Exporting all your references from RefWorks

​If you're not concerned about your folder structure, and/or you have less than 500 references, this export strategy will work for you. If you'd rather keep your folder structure, follow the "exporting a folder from RefWorks" instructions. 

​1 - 3. Follow the "getting started" instructions, above. 

4. In your RefWorks account, hover over the "References" tab in the top left hand corner. Click on "Export."

5. Choose to export "All in List," and select the "Bibliographic Software (EndNote, Reference Manager, ProCite)" export format. Once you have selected both of those things, click "Export References."

6. At this point, a new tab should open up with your references in a list (like the image below). If it does, proceed to Step 7. 

No new tab? Check the bottom right corner of your browser for this window:

Follow the first set of instructions: "click here" because you didn't receive a file download prompt. You should then have the page with your references in a list. 

7. Right click and choose "Save as...," OR click "File" and then "Save as"

8. Save the file as a .txt file. 

9. Open Zotero Standalone. Click on the gear in the middle of the top menu bar. Click on "Preferences..."

10. Inside Zotero Preferences, click on the "Sync" tab. Then input your Zotero username and password. Once you're done, click "OK."

11. Click on the gear again. This time, click on "Import..." 

12. Choose which file to import:

Zotero will automatically create a folder to put them in. 

11. Sync Zotero. 

Congratulations, you're done!

Rather learn by watching?

Other RefWorks to Zotero migration guides

Need help? 

  • Email us, or set up a one-on-one appointment: citation-managers@sfu.ca
  • Register for a migration boot camp, or a citation management workshop