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RefWorks Migration Guide: Migrating to Mendeley

This guide is intended to help UM patrons learn about the Library's decision to no longer provide access to RefWorks, explore alternate programs, as well as instructions on how to migrate their RefWorks data into other citation management programs.


  1. Before You Export
  2. Determine how you want to export your references

If you have extensively used Personal Note or customizable fields in RefWorks or require any additional support to migrate your RefWorks references, please contact:



  • It is not recommended that you export more than 500 references at a time from RefWorks. If your library is larger than 500 references you should create folders and export them one at a time to ensure the integrity of the references.
  • Any file attachments (e.g. PDFs) you have connected to your RefWorks references will not be exported to Mendeley. These files can be saved manually to your computer and then added to the correct Mendeley reference (by dragging and dropping) later.
  • If you have used any of the RefWorks customizable "User Fields" this information will not be moved.  However, if you place the contents of these fields in the RefWorks "Notes" field, then this information will carry over to the Mendeley "Notes" field. 
  • Any text in either PERSONAL NOTES or USER FIELDS in RefWorks will not transfer. You will need to copy it out and insert it in an equivalent field in Mendeley.
  • Any URLs in the LINKS field will transfer, as do DOIs.
  • If you have inserted citations in documents with RefWorks' Write-N-Cite, they can't be used with Mendeley's Cite-o-Matic. You will need to either finish the document you are working on and generate its bibliography with RefWorks Write-N-Cite, or start over with Mendeley. If you choose to complete a project in RefWorks, it must be finished by December 31, 2017.



If you have mostly more traditional types of references such as  books, journal articles, book chapters, then this will be the easiest of the options

  1.  Open RefWorks and choose to View --> All References
  2.  Hover over References --> and choose Export


View all your references then choose References - Export

3.  Choose the Bibliographic Software  export format and then click on Export References.

NOTE: if you have a lot of references, this may take some time.

4. Depending on your browser, it may just save the file that is created or it may display it as a tagged text file in your browser (pop-ups may have to be disabled depending on browser). If it displays in your browser, use your browser file saving options to save this as a .txt file.

5. Open Mendeley Desktop

6. Make sure you have "All Documents" selected in the left-hand panel.

7. From the Mendeley Desktop "File" menu, choose "Add Files"

9.  Locate the file you exported from RefWorks and press the "Open" button.

10. Your references will now appear in your Mendeley Library. 





1. Open RefWorks and view the contents of the first folder you wish to migrate. 

2. In the top left, select References --> and choose Export.

View the contents of a folder first and then choose References - Export

3. ​Choose Bibliographic Software export format and select All in List  and then click on Export References.

  choose the export format= bibliographic software and then select Export References

4. Depending on your browser, it may just save the file that is created or it may display it as a tagged text file in your browser (pop-ups may have to be disabled depending on browser). If it displays in your browser, use your browser file saving options to save this as a .txt file. To make things easier when importing to Mendeley, name the .txt file the same as your folder.

5. Repeat steps 1-4 for each of your folders in RefWorks. This means you will end up with one .txr file for every folder. 

NOTE 1: If you have some references that you have not yet put in folders, make sure to export your "Not in Folder" list as well, or you will lose those items. 

NOTE 2: If a citation is in more than one folder, then it will be exported multiple times, once for each folder that it is in. This will create duplicate citations when you import the files into Mendeley, but Mendeley can manage the duplicate items for you. 

6. Open Mendeley Desktop.

7. Mendeley will automatically import references into whatever folder is currently open, so you will just need to creat the folder first.  Click on Create Folder

click on Create Folder from the upper left column of Mendeley Desktop


8. ​Rename the new "Untitled Folder" to have the name of the folder you're importing from RefWorks. 

9. Click on Add Files and browse to where you saved the .txt file for that folder.  Select the file and click Open. Your references will now be in Mendeley and should be in the folder you just created. 

location of Add Files icon in Mendeley desktop

10. Repeat steps 7-9 for each fo the .txt files you saved from RefWorks. 

11. Your references will now be added to your Mendeley Library and will appear within the folder you created in step. 7.