Related to this question on cross-checking APA citations and references, I often have an existing list of APA formatted references. This might come from a document from a collaborator or it might just be a published article.

I often want to take this list of APA references (e.g., one reference per line) and import them into my bibliographic software in such a way that the reference manager is able to discern what aspects of the reference correspond to author, year, title, journal, issue, pages, etc. I'm often working with Endnote to do this, but I imagine that once you get the data into any reference manager (e.g., Mendeley, Zotero, etc.), it would be relatively easy to export and import into a preferred reference manager.

I'd also be happy with a system that was pretty good but not perfect. In psychology at least, most references are journal articles, book chapters, and books. So a system that imported these and flagged the rest would still be useful.


How can an existing list of APA references be automatically imported into a reference manager?

2 Answers 2


There is a list of tools that attempt to convert formatted bibliographies to bibliography software formats here. I haven't used any of them for a while so I can not recommend any of the tools in particular.


The reference management program Citavi does this quite successfully in the case of journal articles, but not so successfully in the case of books (I know this because I work for Swiss Academic Software, the developers of Citavi). It will not specifically import APA lists, but any kind of formatted bibliography.

This is how to do it:

  1. Add the PDF document containing the list of references as a reference to Citavi.
  2. Show the PDF in the preview column.
  3. Select the text with the references you want to import.
  4. In the menu above the PDF click More > Search bibliography. enter image description here
  • Windows only, unfortunately.
    – vonbrand
    Feb 24, 2016 at 18:00
  • That is correct, but an operating system agnostic web version is being developped at the moment.
    – user49704
    Feb 24, 2016 at 18:04

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