Skip to main content


Refworks To Mendeley Export Process

RefWorks to Mendeley Export Process

It is more difficult than it should be to export references from RefWorks to Mendeley due to an error in RefWorks that blocks exporting more than 100 references at a time in certain circumstances.

The video shows some work-arounds that we are recommending (summarized below).


Refworks To Mendeley Export Process [14:52]

Exporting References From RefWorks

If your RefWorks folder contains less than 1000 references, skip straight to section "B", below.

A. What if you have more than 1000 references to export?

If your folder contains significantly more than 1000 references, then you'll need to split them up by saving them into a series of export folders, following these steps.

  1. Go to "Customize" and change the number of "References Per Page" to 100.
  2. Go to the folder of references you want to export to Mendeley. You will be viewing a screen of the first 100 references.
  3. In the "References" tab, click the "Page" radio button under "References to Use".
  4. Click the "Save to Folder" icon and choose the "New Folder" option.
  5. You will be prompted to give it a name. Name it something like "Export-01".
  6. You should see a confirmation dialog box in the lower right corner of the screen confirming that 100 references were saved to "Export-01".
  7. Go to the screen showing the next 100 references.
  8. Click the "Save to Folder" icon but this time select "Export-01" from the list of folders. This will put the next 100 references into that folder. The count next to the folder name will increment by 100.
  9. Repeat steps 7 & 8, stepping through subsequent screens of references and saving them into "Export-01".
  10. RefWorks recommends exporting a maximum of 500 references at a time, but it is actually safe to export as many as 1000 at a time. This is your choice.
  11. When you begin saving the batch of references that would take you beyond the safe margin of 1000, then go back up to step 4, but this time save them to a new folder, "Export-02".
  12. Continue with step 7, but this time save them to the new "Export-02" folder.
  13. Continue this process of saving references to "Export" folders, incrementing the name with each subsequent group of 1000 references.

B. After you have created your Export folders in RefWorks

  1. Go to your export folder.
    • If you have less then 1000 references to export, go to "All References" or the folder that you want to export.
    • If you have more than 1000 references, you should first follow the steps in section "A", above, to split your references into a series of folders.
  2. Select "References > Export" in the navigation menu.
  3. Choose "Bibliographic Software", the first option under the "Select an Export Format" select box.
  4. Click "Export References" button and save the file with a ".ris" file extension.
    Important! The file name needs to end in ".ris" for Mendeley to be able to understand that it is a list of references. If it is named anything else, including ".txt", Mendeley will assume it is document you want to import rather than a citation list.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for each "Export" folder you saved.

Importing References into Mendeley

These instructions assume you are using Mendeley Web, but you can also import references similarly in Mendeley Desktop.

  1. Login to or create a new account in Mendeley Web. 
  2. Go to to get started.
  3. Click the blue "+ Add" button in the upper left of the Mendeley screen.
  4. Find the RIS export file you saved from RefWorks.
  5. It will begin importing immediately, but may take a minute or so if the file is large.
  6. The progress bar will close when the export is finished and the number of references stored in Mendeley will increment by the number of references in the RIS file.
  7. If you have multiple RIS files to import, repeat steps 3-6 again for each file.