Neil Bennett and Alex Cadwallader of Leonard Curtis Business Solution Group were appointed Joint Administrators of Adept Scientific Limited (“the Company”) on 4 November 2014.

The affairs, business and property of the Company are being managed by the Joint Administrators, who act as agents of the Company without personal liability.

If you are interested in purchasing the business and assets of the Company, please contact Tony Poole or Kay Porter, AgentCite Limited, on 01277 312121.

If you have any questions regarding the Administration, please contact Samuel Wood at recovery@leonardcurtis.co.uk.

Importing an existing reference collection into Reference Manager

Last Modified: 3rd Jan 2013
Category: Bibliography > Reference Manager
Platform: All
Version: 10 11
Article Ref.: 105DE
»Return to previous search
»Print friendly version of this article.
67 out of 67 people have found this article useful.

How can I import my existing reference collection into Reference Manager?

One of the most common questions asked by new and old users of our bibliographic packages is whether an existing list of references can be imported without having to manually type them all in. This article will discuss the various methods by which this can be achieved and show how your existing references can be manipulated into a format that can be imported into a Reference Manager database.

As a rule of thumb, you should consider how many references you need to import. If you have less than a hundred then it may be quicker to enter these into your bibliographic software by either manually typing them in or copying and pasting sections into the appropriate fields from your existing system (this is particularly useful if you have abstracts).

You should also decide whether your existing references are available online. For example, if you have an existing reference collection which is all about ‘Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)’ then you could use the information in your existing reference list to locate the references online. The information in your existing list should be more than adequate to locate the relevant reference as you have the names of the authors, book and / or journal name. Using this method, you could perform a search of an online database e.g. PubMed to find all of the articles and import them. A number of online databases support Direct Export, Direct Connection or Exporting to Text Files which makes sending the references to Reference Manager much quicker than manually typing them in. This method can also identify new references which may be of interest to you.

If you decide that your references are not available online, and that the number of references in your existing system is large enough, then you will want to consider the following.

Reference Manager can import information stored in text files, however the text files must be laid out in a logical, consistent format. Generally speaking, people who have never used Reference Manager will have an existing list of references in one of two formats:

1. Word document
2. Database or Spreadsheet

(Click on the links above to be taken to the appropriate section of this article)

1. A document (e.g. Microsoft Word)

A number of users have a document which contains a list of references which are already displayed in a bibliographic style e.g. Harvard or Vancouver. If your existing list of references is similar to the following example then this section is applicable to you:

1. Bullock C. and F. Khalid, Health issues related to customary consanguineous marriage among British Pakistanis. Health Promotion International, 1995. 10(3): p. 209-217.

2. Buriel R., Childrearing orientations in Mexican American families: the influence of generation and sociocultural factors. Journal of Marriage and the family, 1993. 55(4): p. 987-1001.

3. Chambers D. and S. Lawler, [Review] Representing the family. European Journal of Communication, 2002. 17(4): p. 520-523.

4. Chandra V., Children's work in the family: a sociological study of Indian children in Coventry and Lucknow. 2000, University of Warwick: Warwick.

Each of the above references contains all of the information you need, however the important factor is the way in which the information is separated. If we take the following reference:

4. Chandra, V. Children's work in the family: a sociological study of Indian children in Coventry and Lucknow. 2000, University of Warwick: Warwick.

You can see that each bit of information is separated by some form of punctuation i.e.

- Author is separated from the title by a full stop
- Title is separated from year by a full stop
- The publisher is separated from the year by a comma etc..

This means that it will be relatively easy to set your bibliographic package to identify each part of the reference; however there are some steps to consider before we can create the text file for importing into your package.

Firstly, each reference needs to have a consistent start character. At the moment, the list is numbered which is not suitable for importing. Using your word processor you should be able to select your entire reference list and change the numbers to another character e.g. an asterisk (*). You can use the bullet option to add this character, so that your reference list now appears as:

* Bullock C. and F. Khalid, Health issues related to customary consanguineous marriage among British Pakistanis. Health Promotion International, 1995. 10(3): p. 209-217.

* Buriel R., Childrearing orientations in Mexican American families: the influence of generation and sociocultural factors. Journal of Marriage and the family, 1993. 55(4): p. 987-1001.

You can now use the File, Save As option in your word processor to save the file as a Text File. Click here to go to the Create Filter section.

2. Database e.g. Microsoft Access, FileMaker, Excel or Word Table.

If you have been using another package to store your references such as a spreadsheet or database application, then some work is needed to create a suitable text file for importing into your bibliographic software.

Reference Manager prefers text files which have each part of the reference preceded by a tag, for example:

TI: This is the title
AU: Smith, J.
JO: Journal name
VO: 13
IS: 2

This type of format allows you to set Reference Manager to expect a certain type of information after the tag i.e. any information preceded by the "AU: " identifier should be placed in the Author field of your database.

To create this output, you have a number of options. However, by far the easiest is to use the mail-merge functionality within your word processor to create a document containing each record from your database or spreadsheet with each part of the reference split into tags. Microsoft Word allows you to link to an external database (e.g. Access or Excel) and bring in the information to a template which will then create a master text file containing all of your references in the tagged format you require.

The steps for this are as follows:

1. Launch your database or spreadsheet and make a note of the Column headings e.g. Author, Date, etc...

2. Launch Microsoft Word and create a new document with a tag for each column heading e.g.:

TY:
AU:
TI:
VO:
IS:
SP:
EP:

Make sure that you add a carriage return after the last tag so that in the final merged file each record will be separated by a blank line.

3. Once you have added a tag for each column in your existing reference system you can use Microsoft Word's mail merge feature to add the data to each tag. The mail merge Wizard will ask you to specify a database (your existing reference list) and will then provide you with the column headings. You can insert appropriate fields from your spreadsheet or database into Microsoft Word so that you can match up the tags to your data:

TY: <<Reference Type>>
AU: <<Authors>>
TI: <<Title>>
VO: <<Volume>>
IS: <<Issue>>
SP: <<Start Page>>
EP: <<End Page>>

4. When you have inserted all of the fields into your Microsoft Word document, you can run the mail merge. This will create a new document which will contain all of the reference information from your existing reference system matched to the appropriate tag e.g.:

TY: Symposium Abstract
AU: Baldini J.U.L.
TI: Climatic and hydrolologic controls on annual carbonate deposition for a stalagmite from Brown's Folly mine, Wiltshire
VO: 27
IS: 3
SP: 129
EP:

TY: Symposium Abstract
AU: Barker-Read G.R.; Farnfield R.A.
TI: Exposure to Radon in Gilfield Mine [North Yorkshire]
VO: 23
IS: 3
SP: 125
EP:

Etc…

5. Save the resulting document as a text file using the File, Save As function in Microsoft Word.

You now have a properly formatted text file which is ready to import into Reference Manager. The next step is to create an import filter to tell Reference Manager how to use the text file you have created. Click here to be taken to the appropriate section of this document.

CREATING AN IMPORT FILTER

Reference Manager uses import filters to read information from text files and place it into the appropriate fields within your database. The type of filter you need to create depends on the type of text file you have created.

A. Bibliographic Style

For importing a text file which looks like:

* Bullock C. and F. Khalid, Health issues related to customary consanguineous marriage among British Pakistanis. Health Promotion International, 1995. 10(3): p. 209-217.

* Buriel R., Childrearing orientations in Mexican American families: the influence of generation and sociocultural factors. Journal of Marriage and the family, 1993. 55(4): p. 987-1001.

In Reference Manager, click on Tools, Import Filter Editor and click on File, New. Click ‘Yes’ when shown the following message:




Specify a file name for your filter. You can save this filter anywhere on your computer.

Click on ‘Next’ and you will be shown a screen which allows you to enter a description of the filter you are about to create. It is always useful to add some details about the filter and you will not be allowed to proceed with the Wizard until you have entered some information into this screen.





Click on ‘Next’ and you will be shown the following screen:


Select ‘Yes’ on this screen, even if you are not sure. Click on ‘Next.’


Reference Manager needs to know how each reference in the text file is separated i.e. what denotes the start of a reference? Our text file has an asterisk (*) character at the start of each reference so we need to set this as the Tag/Reference Marker.


The only tag in our text file is an asterisk (*) character, so this should be entered into the Tag format field. Remember to include any spaces which appear before or after the tag. Each reference is on a new-line so you will need to add the new line character as shown above. This can be entered by pressing Control + L, or you can use the arrow button to insert this.

Click on Finish and OK the following message:



The following screen will be displayed:


Each reference in our original database begins with an asterisk (*) and each reference is on a new line in the text file. Enter in the New Line character using Control + L and then the asterisk (*) character. Remember to add any spaces after the asterisk if present. Click on 'Common Tags' at the top of the screen.


The 'Common Tags' screen allows you to enter in the one tag that we have in our text file, namely an asterisk (*). Remember to add the New Line character before the asterisk (*). Click on the <None Specified> entry on the right hand side of the screen and select <Source> from the drop down list. The <Source> option is used where a number of different fields exist within a single tag. In our data file, the tag is an asterisk (*) and this contains information for Authors, Date, Journal Name etc so the <Source> field allows us to use all of the information we have in our file.

When you select the <Source> option, the following screen will be displayed:


Click on the ‘Source Subfields’ option. This is the screen which allows us to tell Reference Manager how the information in our text file is separated. Each reference has information separated by various forms of punctuation e.g. Author Name, Date and Year. Using the ‘Source Subfields’ screen you can specify the punctuation which separates each item of data in the reference. Our text file is as follows:

* Bullock C. and F. Khalid, Health issues related to customary consanguineous marriage among British Pakistanis. Health Promotion International, 1995. 10(3): p. 209-217.

Our ‘Source Subfield’ screen should be entered as follows:


Note that each punctuation mark reflects the way in which the reference appears in the text file i.e.:

From the asterisk (*) to the first comma, all information is entered into the Authors field.
From the first comma to the first full stop, all information is entered into the Title field.
From the first full stop to the next comma, all information is entered into the Periodical field.
Etc….

It is unlikely that all your information will import correctly the first time you run the import so you may have to edit the filter to change some of the options to match your text file. If you get the majority of your information in then you can use some of the global editing functions in Reference Manager to move the information into the appropriate fields.

For some fields it will be necessary to use the Edit option to change the way in which the information is imported. A good example of this is the Authors field, which by default expects information to be imported as surname, forename. In our text file there is some variation in the way that author names appear. Therefore the settings for this screen have been changed to:


By changing the Parse Method to 'Normal Text' instead of 'Author', Reference Manager will have no expectations as to how the author information is imported i.e. it will be imported as it appears instead of trying to work out how the surname is separated from the forename or initial. After the import you can change the formatting of the author names to be consistent throughout your database which will still be quicker than having to manually type all of the references in.

You can now save the filter and return to Reference Manager. Create a new Reference Manager database and use the File, Import Text File to specify the name of the text file you have created and the filter you have just made. Run the import and check some records to make sure that the information has been imported correctly.

It is unlikely that all of your information will import correctly the first time you run the import so you may have to edit the filter to change some of the options to match your text file. If you get the majority of your information in then you can use some of the global editing functions in Reference Manager to move the information into the appropriate fields.

B. Tagged Style

For importing a text file which looks like:

TY: Symposium Abstract
AU: Barker-Read G.R.; Farnfield R.A.
TI: Exposure to Radon in Gilfield Mine [North Yorkshire]
VO: 23
IS: 3
SP: 125
EP:

In Reference Manager, click on Tools, Import Filter Editor and click on File, New. Click ‘Yes’ when shown the following message:



Specify a file name for your filter. You can save this filter anywhere on your computer.

Click on ‘Next’ and you will be shown a screen which allows you to enter a description of the filter you are about to create. It is always useful to add some detail about the filter and you will not be allowed to proceed with the wizard until you have entered some information into this screen.





Click on ‘Next’ and you will be shown the following screen:


Select ‘Yes’ on this screen, even if you are not sure. Click on ‘Next’.

The next screen asks you to specify how each reference is separated in your text file. You can open up your text file in Notepad to see how each reference starts. In our example, each reference starts with the same tag: ‘TY:’. You can enter this tag into the 'Tag/Reference Marker' field as shown. Remember to add a New Line character before the tag as each tag appears on a separate line in your text file. This can be added using ‘Control + L’ or by selecting the appropriate option from the arrow button.


Click on ‘Next’ and the following screen will be shown:


Specify how tags appear in your text file. Add the New Line character (using Control + L or the arrow menu) and then add the appropriate codes. The text file used in this example is very similar to the example shown on this screen and the codes entered tell Reference Manager to expect tags to be two upper case characters, on a new line followed by a colon and a space.

Click on ‘Finish’ and the following message will be displayed:


Click ‘OK’ and you will be taken to the following screen:



Enter the first tag into the 'Identifier' field as shown above. Click on the 'Common Tags' tab and enter in each tag in your text file preceded by the New Line character as follows:


You have complete control over which fields in your database the information is sent to. When you select an option e.g. Notes in the 'Destination Field' you will be shown a screen similar to the following in which you can change the way in which the information is imported.


Due to the simple structure of our text file, there is no need to make any changes on these screens, however if you have created a more complicated text file, or your data is not consistent, then you may need to make some changes to each field.

You can now save the filter and return to Reference Manager. Create a new Reference Manager database and use the File, Import Text File to specify the name of the text file you have created and the filter you have just made. Run the import and check some records to make sure that the information has been imported correctly.

It is unlikely that all of your information will import correctly the first time you run the import so you may have to edit the filter to change some of the options to match your text file. If you get the majority of your information in then you can use some of the global editing functions in Reference Manager to move the information into the appropriate fields.
 
 
Related Articles

If you can't find a solution on the Knowledge Base then please contact us on the Technical Support Request Form or by email or by telephone on +44 (0) 1462 488888