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RefWorks: Quality Control & Editing

RefWorks helps you to collect and organise your references and automatically create bibliographies and reference lists. It comes with a Write-N-Cite add-on to help with your in-text citations.

Help with RefWorks

Why are there errors in my bibliography?

Errors are usually imported from library catalogues, journal databases, Web sites etc. For example:

  • The title is in capital letters
  • The edition abbreviation appears twice
  • The ISBN appears in the bibliography
  • Strange symbols or characters appear in the references


 Whenever possible edit your references in RefWorks before creating your bibliography.

Quality Control


RefWorks makes it easier to create a bibliography and manage your references, but it can't do it all. You need to proof read your bibliography carefully.

  • Check that the imported information is accurate and displays correctly in your bibliography.
  • Check that the bibliography complies with any instructions or style sheets for your essay, dissertation, journal article etc.
  • If you use Write-N-Cite, you may need to edit your citations to include page numbers or add other punctuation.

Editing Your Final Bibliography

Once you have created your final bibliography you can edit your reference list in your Word processor. If possible though, it is better to edit the references in RefWorks and output the bibliography again.  This will ensure the corrections are permanent in case you need to output the bibliography again or if you wish to reuse the references.  See instructions below.

Edit References in RefWorks

Wherever possible edit your reference in RefWorks rather than editing your bibliography.  See the instructions below or view the video Editing References in RefWorks.

Click the edit button for the problem reference and then make necessary changes.  If you can't see the field or details that you want to change, click Additional Fields to display more information.

 Edit button

Common problems with Imported References that you may wish to update include:

  • The database exported the journal title in upper case letters.  In this case retype the title.
  • The library catalogue included the abbreviation 'ed.' after the edition number and RefWorks also added an abbreviation. The edition therefore appears twice e.g. "6th ed. edn.". In this case remove 'ed.' from the Edition field.
  • The ISBN of a book displays in the bibliography. In this case click Additional Fields and scroll down until you see the ISBN field and delete the ISBN number.
  • Unusual symbols, characters or letters appear in references from some source.  In this case delete the unwanted characters.  In some instances you can do a global edit - see below. 

Global Edit

You will find more details about Editing Multiple References  on the RefWorks Help pages but the following example illustrates how to deal with common problems.

    First select all the references you wish to change.

    You may need to search for them first. 

    The advanced search allows you to search for information in specific fields

     e.g. title, edition, journal abbreviation etc.




Making a replacement

The following example illustrates how to remove the abbreviation for Edition that was imported from the Library catalogue.  In this case it is important not to simply delete the whole content of the Edition field or else you could completely lose the information that this is a 2nd (or later edition).  You can use the same procedure to replace any information e.g. if a journal abbreviation is incorrect you can Replace with the correct information (see step 3 below).

1.   Choose Advanced search and select Edition from the drop-down Search Field list and search for "ed."


2.   Select the references you wish to change and click the Global Edit button

3.   Click the Replace option, select Edition from the Fields to Replace Data drop-down list, enter "ed." in the Find what box and leave the Replace with box blank.