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RefWorks to Zotero: Compatility and FAQs

Reported Zotero Issues

Zotero does not work with Office 365.

As an alternative, consider using the built-in Office 365 cite feature.

Citation Tools Compatibility

Citation management software can make it easy to track references if you choose a tool that works with your computer.



Windows XP SP2

Mac OS 10.9

Word Processors

Word 2010-2016 (Windows)

Word 2008-2016 (Mac)


Chrome 55, Firefox 52, Safari

10-11 (not 12)



The following questions and answers are designed to help you plan for transitioning from RefWorks to Zotero.  Please contact us with any questions you may have that are not answered here.

Why is Pacific University Libraries no longer supporting RefWorks?

Due to budget constraints and the availability of numerous free resources, the Pacific University Libraries is canceling its costly institutional subscription to RefWorks, effective December 2018.

How do I know who will be affected and how they will be contacted?

Pacific University Libraries will e-mails to account users notifying them of the upcoming transition, with instructions to consult this guide and to contact us with any questions that are not addressed in this FAQ.

I use RefWorks. What should I use instead?

The Libraries will encourage using  Zotero. Zotero provides many of the same basic set of functions as RefWorks.  However, there are many free citation manager tools available.

I am an alumnus. Will I also lose access to my RefWorks account?

Yes. When we end our institutional subscription to RefWorks, you will lose access to your account and your citations. You will have to migrate your citations to Zotero or another account manager you prefer.

How do I get my references from RefWorks into my new citation manager?

In addition to this LibGuide, downloadable handouts with instructions for migrating your citations and files from RefWorks to Zotero are available on this guide.

Can I transfer PDFs to my new citation manager?

Legacy RefWorks does not have an automatic bulk PDF export option; each PDF needs to be downloaded individually. To transfer your PDFs from RefWorks to your new citation manager, display the citation record and click on the paperclip icon to download the PDF. You will need to upload the PDFs to your new citation manager and attach them to the new records.

RefWorks (New) does have an automatic bulk PDF export option. If you are using Legacy RefWorks, you need to migrate to a ProQuest RefWorks (New) account first and then use the bulk PDX export option.

For detailed instructions, see Save and Migrate pdfs from RefWorks.

​Zotero: PDFs must be uploaded one at a time. 

Can I transfer my folders and organization from RefWorks to my new citation manager?

If you want to transfer your folders from RefWorks into your new citation manager, you will have to recreate your folders and organizational structure in your new citation manager and export each RefWorks folder separately. In Zotero, folders are called Collections.

If I have added notes and used custom fields in RefWorks, will these transfer to my new citation manager?

Notes and other custom fields will become Extras in Zotero.

Personal Notes will not transfer directly from Legacy RefWorks, but they will from ProQuest RefWorks (New). If you want to save your Personal Notes, migrate your Legacy RefWorks account to a ProQuest RefWorks (New) account. Personal Notes will merge with the Notes fields, which can be transferred into Zotero.

How do the other citation managers handle different character sets? Do they import as accurately as they do into RefWorks?

While this was once a problem, Zotero is now Unicode-compliant and both do a very smooth job of downloading and handling any Unicode-based data.

Will my new citation manager link back to an item's full text, like it does in RefWorks?

Yes.  Zotero links back to an item's full text.

How do I export items from the library's databases to my new citation manager?

Zotero can read BibTex and RIS files These file types are available from many of the library databases. 

See also Adding Items to your Zotero Library

Can I export items from the UMBrella to my new citation manager?

Yes.  Zotero have browser plug-ins which allow you to easily extract citation information from the UMBrella. Use Zotero for Firefox or the Zotero Bookmarklet in any browser. 

Can I export items from WorldCat to my new citation manager?

​Yes, you can export items from WorldCat through the Zotero browser plug-in. Use Zotero for Firefox or the Zotero Bookmarklet in any browser. 

To download citation information as a RIS file, click Cite/Export, then click Export to EndNote / Reference Manager. Save the file you wish to import into either Mendeley or Zotero, and follow the instructions from the migration guides for importing files.

Will I be able to access my references from any computer, like I can with RefWorks?

Yes. You can access your references in Zotero from any computer:

How do I collaborate with others in my new citation manager?

Other citation managers allow for collaborative work. You can accomplish this through "Groups"  in Zotero.

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