Skip to main content

Reference management programs: Troubleshooting

"Word has misbehaved" (RefWorks)

"Unfortunately Word has misbehaved and we couldn't update some of your citations"

When using RefWorks Citation Manager and encountering this message, some other code included in the document may have corrupted the RefWorks Citation Manager code. Try the options below:

  • remove the last citation you added, then save the document and quit Word. Re-open Word and re-insert the citation. If you get the error again, proceed to the second last citation you removed. Delete it → save your document → quit Word → reopen → try adding it again. Repeat this procedure until the the corrupted code is removed.
  • remove any of the following from the document: comments, any tracked changes, tables, images etc any other third party references. 
  • save your document as .doc (1997 - 2003 Word) and then save it as .docx


Last option - decode your document and start over

  • Select all text → right-click and choose "remove content control" → log out of RCM and log on again → start over inserting citations 

Remove references in text

Regardless of whether you are using RefWorks, Mendeley or any other reference manager program, the following procedure applies when you need to remove a reference from your text.

1) Remove the reference from your text in Word, not on your account (in doing so you still have access to the reference for future citations).

2) Start by placing the cursor right behind the citation in the text


3) Keep hitting backspace until the whole parenthesis is gone

4) Reapply or update your document, the reference should disappear from the bibliography



You can also remove references by selecting the inserted in-line citation text and hitting "delete" on the keybord.


Reapply or update the document to make sure the deletion was completed.