Answered By: Cindy Schmidt
Last Updated: Dec 25, 2016     Views: 2075

Errors of the type you mention usually look as follows: 

Reference 22 was not found in your database  – format usually seen with Write-n-Cite III


RW.ERROR - Unable to find reference:22 – format usually seen with Write-n-Cite 4


There are two situations in which this type of error occurs:

  •  The first situation occurs when two coauthors insert references from separate Refworks accounts.  All references in a document must come from a single Refworks account.  Any in-text citations inserted from a second account, must be deleted and replaced with citations from the one account used for the document.


  • Much more frequently, this error is seen after deleting a member of a pair of duplicate RefWorks records after the deleted member has been used to insert a citation in a document (or just mistakenly deleting a single Refworks record).  To fix this problem


If you have deleted a reference that had previously been used to insert a citation, proceed as follows:

1.    Start by displaying the hidden Write-n-Cite field codes.  You can do this by clicking Alt-F9 (Word for Windows) or Option-F9 (Mac).  Press the same keys later when you want to hide the field codes.


2.    Use Word’s find feature (Ctl-f in Word for Windows, ⌘-F in Word for Mac) and search for the reference number that “was not found”.   There may be multiple instances of the number.


3.    When you find the number inside RefWorks code, (it will look something like the screenshot below). Check to see how many instance of the errant number appear in your document.   If there are many instances of the errant number and you are using Write-n-Cite III, you may find the optional method at the bottom of this message easier. 

4.    Record the author’s name and publication year.  In the case of this example,

Hammerschlag, C.A. 2010.

5.    Search your RefWorks database for a RefWorks record with that author's name and that publication year.

a.    If you have found the correct reference, note the new ref ID associated with the reference.  You can see in the screen shot below that the new Ref ID for the example is 26

b.    Replace the errant Ref ID (in the example, this is 22) with the new Ref ID for the reference (in the example, this is 26) and save the document. 


6.    If your Refworks account does not currently contain a record for the needed reference and you’ve deleted the reference in the last 30 days, you will be able to restore the deleted reference to your account.  Use the Refworks “View” menu to select “Deleted References.”  Sort the list as needed to make the reference easier to locate.  If you find the needed reference, select it and use the “Restore” icon (arrows in a circle) to restore the reference to your account.



7.    Make the formatted citations and bibliography appear:

  •  If you’re using Write-n-Cite III, use the Write-n-Cite  “Create Bibliography” button to reformat your citations and bibliography.


  •  If you’re using Write-n-Cite 4, you now need to make Write-n-Cite refresh the citations and bibliography.  One method to force a refresh is to click on one of the areas of citation code in your Word document, and then, in the “Ref Works” ribbon, click “insert citation” then “insert new” and Okay the citation.


Optional method for Write-n-Cite III documents (works well when there are many instances of an errant RefID/s).

Follow the steps outlined below to correct the problem:

1.     Record the reference number or numbers that appear in the error message.

2.     If you are using Write-n-Cite III (WNC III), use the WNC "Tools" menu to "Revert to WNC v. 2 document"

3.     Once you are looking at a document with WNC v. 2 code, search for the "Ref ID" number that appeared in the WNC error message. 

4.     When you locate the problem Ref ID number, note the authors name and publication date that are associated with the number. 

5.     Search your RefWorks database for a RefWorks record with that author's name and that publication year. If you have found the correct reference, note the ref ID associated with the reference. 

6.     Replace all instances of the problem Ref ID in your document's RefWorks code with the Ref ID for the record that still exists in your RefWorks account.

7.     Keep searching for and replacing the missing Ref ID until the whole document has been searched.

8.     Repeat steps 3-7 for the next problem Ref ID

9.     If you are using WNC III, use the "Tools" menu to "Convert to WNC III Document"

10.  Click on the “Bibliography” button and “Create Bibliography”


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