Tips and tricks for using RefWorks to manage citations, create bibliographies, and share citations.

Error Messages and Solutions

If something is not working, do these simple things in your browser:

Firefox is a good browser for RefWorks.

  • Clear your browser cache of cookies
  • Turn off any ad/popup blocking or anti-tracking browser plugins – In Firefox, do this:
    --- Tools (top of screen) --> Options --> Privacy & Security (on the left) --> scroll down to Permissions --> UNcheck "Block Popup Windows."
    --- Or, just add an Exception for RefWorks: click the Exceptions box and add
  • Make sure the correct login page is used:
    –- For RefWorks, use 
    -- For Legacy RefWorks, use


There are very few problems with Non-English characters.
  • RefWorks uses UTF-8 import encoding, so as long as the non-English characters are correct in the export, RefWorks will *import* them correctly.

No, you cannot print out any notes (annotations) that you make on documents.

Also, if you print the document, the notes will not show.

(Information as of June 2019, from Refworks Tech)

Problem: All of the words in your references are capitalized.
  • Once you have created a bibliography, always check the capitalization of foreign titles -- often, all of the words are capitalized
  • To fix this, choose the output style of "MLA 8th edition, no title casing":

When you choose a style for your bibliography, there can be many options, including some that say "sentence casing," title casing," or "no casing."

"Case" refers to "upper case" and "lower case," which are capital letters or small letters.

  • RefWorks cannot distinguish a proper noun from any other word
  • Therefore, if titles include geographic names or biological species that should be capitalized, for example, you need to select a style that will do that
  • Choosing None as an option will print the title exactly as it is cased in your RefWorks account

RefWorks added many choices for what you want the 7th edition of APA to do.

This page explains how to get rid of duplicate citations in your folders.

Here are a few more tips:

  • Your citations can't be de-duplicated until 24 hours after you've added them, especially if it's a big batch (this is an automated process and you don't need to do anything except wait)
  • The current maximum that can be de-duplicated is 2,000
"Error, the Group code passed in null was invalid"
  • If you are seeing this error message, clear your cookies and cache
  • If that does not fix the problem, please email
The folders default to alphabetical order. 

To put them in a customized order, you should number them.

---Example:   1. Introduction, 2. Analysis.

But if neither of these orders is working, check these things:
1. Make sure that you are going directly to to access your account, and not through a library portal or VPN

2.  Make sure you are not blocking cookies or third-party cookies

3. Disable any ad blockers on your browser

The Google Docs add-on doesn't recognize my JHED ID.
  • The problem is that the Google Docs add-on doesn’t like JHU’s Shibboleth
  • Easy solution: in Refworks, go into Settings (the drop-down under your name, top right), and scroll down to Alternate Password.
  • All you have to do is change your password. It doesn’t matter what it is, and it won’t affect anything else.


More information about the Google Docs add-on here.


Did you move references from a database into RefWorks, but you got a message that said "Import Failed"?
  • In some SSO (single sign-on) systems, if the token is stripped on the way to the account, the import will fail. But this only happens rarely.

  • To avoid this, login to RefWorks first, and then open a second tab and search the database.

In the new RefWorks, you can login by just typing Johns Hopkins here:


But sometimes, this does not show, and you must use a password.

To solve that problem, you can create an alternate password:

  • Log in to RefWorks.
  • Go to the upper right corner, and click the arrow next to your name
  • Choose settings, and scroll down to the alternate password field
  • Click on "set alternate password" and choose a password
Are you using a Mac, and the login portal is NOT showing the "institutional login" option?
  • You can use your JHED ID, but you must use the password that you had when you FIRST registered for RefWorks
  • If you don't know that password, call the RefWorks phone number on the left of this page (775-327-4105), and they will help you
Are you trying to log in to Legacy (OLD) RefWorks, but no login portal is showing?
  • Sometimes the image with the portal link and red bars doesn't display -- this usually happens with newer versions of Chrome or Firefox
  • Internet Explorer often asks if you want to "Show all content" --  choose "yes," and the box will show

But you don't have to use the box with the red bars at all -- just login on the bottom left, with the Shibboleth link, using your JHED ID:




Are folders or other things missing from your RefWorks?

Or are you seeing that folders from Class A show in RefWorks, but references from Class B show in the RCM panel on the right?

You probably have two RefWorks accounts -- one uses jhu and one includes jh.

Solution:  Delete the one you do NOT want.

  1. Log in to the Refworks account that you do NOT want to keep
  2. Click on your name (top right) and then Settings
  3. Scroll to the bottom
  4. Click "remove account" -- this will entirely delete this RefWorks account


Are you using a style that asks for reference numbers in text, and a bibliography listed in the order that the references were used?

For example:  

It is very important to keep track of which references go with which sentences.

A good way to do that is to use the author/date in the text, instead of the superscripts.

When you are completely finished with your paper, your very last steps should be

  1. changing those in-text author/dates into superscripts
  2. creating your bibliography in whatever style you are supposed to use (more info on this page under "In Order of Use")


If you are off-campus and trying to log in to either RefWorks or Write-N-Cite 3 (which is old), you may be asked a security question.
  • The question is: Do you want to view only the webpage content that was delivered securely?
  • You must answer NO, in order to display the entire login page

Every time you add a citation to RefWorks, ANOTHER RefWorks tab opens.

  • Therefore, if you cannot find a citation that you know you added, just REFRESH RefWorks in whatever tab you are in


Word freezes every time I add a new reference.
  • You will need to uninstall and reinstall Write N Cite.
  • Before uninstalling Write N Cite, you'll need to delete some files. Use these instructions to completely uninstall Write N Cite 4.

See these additional troubleshooting solutions (on the SAIS Refworks guide).