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Zotero: Transitioning from RefWorks

Instructions for using and exporting sources to Zotero, the free, easy to use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.

Preparing to Migrate From RefWorks to Zotero

Zotero will not automatically keep your RefWorks folder organization.  Zotero refers to "collections", rather than "folders".  Start by creating collections in your Zotero account that match the folders you have in RefWorks.  When you export your sources from RefWorks to Zotero you can do so one folder at a time and this will retain your organization.

PDFs will not automatically transfer from RefWorks to Zotero

  • Make sure to save copies of any documents attached to your RefWorks references.

Don't worry about duplicate resources

  • Zotero automatically detects when resources are duplicated and provides you with an easy option to merge the documents together. 

Transitioning from RefWorks to Zotero

1.  Log into your RefWorks account

2.  Click on the "References" tab then "Export"

  • You can send all of your references at the same time from the default "All References" page

If you created separate folders for your sources, you will need to export folders individually to keep each collection of references together. To export a folder, click on the folder title in the folders list, and follow the same exporting procedure.

  • Sources imported into Zotero will appear within their own collection, so exporting individual RefWorks folders will make it easy to maintain the same collections of references within Zotero.  

3.  Select "Bibliographic Software" from the list of export formats, then click "Export References" 

4.  A new tab or window in your browser will automatically open containing a plain text list of your references

  • A small white box with a link to your download will also appear in the bottom right corner of your browser window. If your download did not automatically open, choose one of the links in that box to access the file. 

5.  Save the file to your computer as a Plain Text document (TXT)

  • If you are exporting all of your references at the same time you do not need to rename the file. 
  • If you are exporting individual folders, rename each of the files to match the folder so you can differentiate between collections of references

6.  In Zotero for Firefox or Zotero Standalone click on the "Actions" gear button in the toolbar then "Import" to select the file downloaded from RefWorks

  • Imported citations will appear as their own collection with a name matching the file under "My Library." 

7.  Add associated PDFs by selecting the newly added citation and clicking on the "Attachment" paperclip button. Click on "Attach Link to File" and select the corresponding file. 

NNU Librarians are here to help! Let us know if you have any questions or if you need assistance moving your citations out of RefWorks.

Writing Center


Need some assistance with the writing process? 

The Writing Center offers drop-in hours and appointment scheduling for students to meet with a writing consultant.

Not able to get to campus? Submit your paper (10 pages or less) on Canvas. Look for the Online Writing Lab tab on the NNU Writing Center page (link below) to get instructions.