RevMan 5 FAQ

RevMan 5 frequently asked questions
RevMan 5 frequently asked questions



    Full guidance on using all functions in RevMan 5 is provided in the user guide.

    Frequently-asked questions on installation and trouble-shooting are below.

    What has changed in RevMan 5.4?
    Customising RevMan 5
    Automatic backup settings
    Error messages
    Importing and exporting data
    Increasing memory size in RevMan 5
    File formats
    Linux installation

    What has changed in RevMan 5.4?

    RevMan 5.4.1 was released in September 2020. These details are relevant only to users of RevMan 5.4.1 for Cochrane Reviews. 

    1. RevMan 5.4.1 is more closely connected to RevMan Web

    Reviews can be opened in RevMan Web from within RevMan 5.4.1, making it easier than ever to work in RevMan Web.

    2. Author and review details can only be edited in Archie

    Use Archie to complete the actions below. Ensure the review is checked in from RevMan 5.4.1 before making changes in Archie. Changes will be visible in the review when you next check it out in RevMan 5.

    • Create a review
    • Edit author names, affiliations or author order
    • Edit review title, ID, name, stage or phase
    • View tasks in progress in My Reviews view

    3. Dates no longer in use have been removed from reviews in RevMan 5.4.1

    • Date assessed as up to date
    • Date next stage expected

    Customising RevMan 5

    1. Which settings can I change to improve the performance of the RevMan 5?

    If RevMan 5 is running slowly, e.g. for very big reviews, here are some things you can try:

    • Turn off 'Validation as You Type' and 'Spell checking as You Type'
    • Limit the 'Undo History Size' under Tools > Preferences > General. You can even set it to zero if you don't use undo
    • Check that 'Save Backup File Every' under Tools > Preferences > Files is not set too low (e.g. every minute)
    • Increase the available memory. See Increasing memory size in RevMan 5

    2. How do I change the font size?

    • The font size of the outline pane can be changed under Tools > Preferences > Interface > Size of Text in Outline.
    • The (relative) font size of the Text of Review tab and other text boxes is controlled by the style sheet selected under Tools > Preferences > Interface > Style Sheet. Note: it is not possible to mix font sizes in the text except than by using the heading styles.
    • The font size used for printing is controlled under File > Page Setup > Content > Scale. A smaller value for scale results in a smaller font size. Note for Mac OS users: Sorry, scaling doesn't work on Mac OS.

    Automatic backup settings

    1. How do I set up and access backup files?

    You can adjust the time interval at which RevMan saves your work by changing the time limit in Tools > Preferences > Files > 'Save Backup File Every'. These backup files are stored as .rm5 files with file name 'backupXXXXX.rm5' where XXXXX is a number. You can change the directory where backup files are stored under Tools > Preferences > Files > Backup. You can also adjust the number of days the backup files are stored before being deleted. You can open backup files in RevMan 5. Check the date the file was modified to find the right one. 

      Error messages and known issues

      1. I get an error message when I try to save or submit the review. What does it mean?

      Document is not checked out by you
      You get this error if you edit a review and try to submit it without checking it out first. If you have this problem, please contact your Managing Editor or
      Document has an invalid version number
      You get this error if you have been working on the wrong version of the review. Each version of a review has a version number. The version number of the version you submit, should be the same as when it was checked out, for reasons of version control. If you have this problem, please contact your Managing Editor or
      Document not found
      You're trying to submit a review that doesn't exist in the Cochrane database.
      File type not supported
      You're trying to submit a file from an older version of RevMan, or a file of a type other than .rm5. 
      Invalid unique Review ID
      The unique ID of the version you're trying to submit doesn't match the ID for the review in the system. 
      Document validation failed
      The review file contains invalid content or internal errors. This is not the same as the errors you might get when you run a validation report. If you see this error please contact
      Other document exception
      This is used for other errors that don't fit into the other categories. You may see this error during any server downtime.
      2. I get a 'Model/view inconsistency' exception when I try to save my review. What does it mean?

      RevMan 5 occasionally has a problem with displaying text: sometimes the text on screen gets ‘out of sync' with the text in the review file. This will lead to a 'Model-View Inconsistency’ error, to avoid text going missing without anyone noticing at the time.

      It may be possible to address the problem by checking for more detail in the error message about where the error is (for example, in ‘Risk of bias’ table or Discussion section). Add some dummy text to the problematic section (it may contain a ‘hidden’ space that is not displayed in RevMan 5), then save, then remove the dummy text. This will update the XML file and remove the error.

      However, even without this step the review (XML) file still contains the correct version of the text even if it is not displaying correctly, so you will not lose any changes.

      3. A warning in RevMan 5.4 tells me to update and install the new version but the Check for updates link does not work.
      Please go to the RevMan 5.4 installation page and install the most up-to-date version.

      4. I am running RevMan 5.4 in non-Cochrane mode and see an error message when trying to add authors.
      Unfortunately there is a known issue with RevMan 5.4.1 which means it is not possible to use the author wizard for non-Cochrane reviews. All other features of the software should work as expected. 

      Importing and exporting data

      1. How do I modify a graph in Word/PowerPoint for inclusion in a journal?

      • Open the graph window from the data entry screen, or edit the figure (if it has been created as a figure)
      • Click the Copy button to copy the graph to the clipboard
      • Use Paste Special in Word/PowerPoint to paste the figure as an Enhanced Meta File (EMF)
      • Right click on the inserted image and choose Edit Picture

      2. How do I generate a PDF file with text and forest plots?

      • Print the review using Print Mode: Text of Review. Choose PDF as the print destination.
      • When the PDF opens, choose an appropriate file name and click OK
      • Close the PDF window
      • Back in RevMan 5, print the review again - this time using Print Mode: Forest Plots
      • When the PDF opens, accept the same file name as before by clicking OK
      • Accept to append to the existing file
      • Close the PDF window

      3. What format should I use for references that I want to import?

      Use RIS format for transferring references to RevMan 5. See the documentation for your reference management software for how to generate a text file in RIS format.

      RevMan 5 also supports its own tagged text format. We provide a set of files for ProCite, EndNote, and Reference Manager.

      4. How do I create an additional table from a table in Word?

      Use an appendix as a temporary clipboard:

      • Add a new appendix
      • Paste Word table into appendix
      • Right click on table in appendix and choose Move to Additional Table
      • Delete appendix

      Increasing memory size in RevMan 5

      1. How do I change the amount of memory RevMan 5 is allowed to use?

      Windows systems:
      If you're working on large reviews, you might get better performance from RevMan 5 if you adjust the amount of memory that RevMan 5 is allowed to use:

      • Right click on the RevMan 5 shortcut on the desktop, and choose Properties.
        The Target box will contain something like:
        "C:\Program Files\Review Manager 5\Review Manager 5.exe"
      • If you are using the 64-bit version (see Help > About in RevMan to check):
        Add the following after the last double-quote:
        (note that there should be a space between the double quote and the first dash). The resulting Target line should look like this:
        "C:\Program Files\Review Manager 5\Review Manager 5.exe" -J-Xmx2048M
      • If you are using 32-bit version
        Add: -J-Xmx1500M.

      This will set the maximum amount of memory to 2048 MB (1500 MB in the 32-bit version). You should adjust the number to a value suitable for your system, eg with 8 GB RAM or more you may want to use 4000M.

      If you get the message 'The JVM could not be started' when starting RevMan, try lowering the memory to 1500 MB (1250 MB in the 32-bit version).

      IMPORTANT: You must open files from within RevMan 5 to benefit from the extra memory. 

      Mac OS systems:
      In Mac OS you cannot specify the memory setting for RevMan 5 in particular but you can specify the setting for Java applications in general on the Java Preferences dialog. See here for one explanation of how to do this (valid for OS X versions up until 10.6).

      On later versions of Mac OS X the Java Control Panel can be accessed from System Preferences instead of from Applications/Utilities. Click the Java tab, click View and add -Xmx1G under Runtime Parameters.

      File formats

      1. RevMan 5 file (.rm5)

      The main file format used by RevMan for reviews. Each .rm5 file is an xml file containing a single review.

      2. Study Exchange format (.xml)

      You can use the Import Studies function to import new studies (including identifiers, references and characteristics), but also update existing studies. The study information you want to add or update must be in a special study exchange XML format.

      Linux installation


      Install Java 8

      Use your package manager to install Java 8 (RevMan 5.4 does not work with later Java versions). On Ubuntu, use the following terminal command: 

      sudo apt install openjdk-8-jre

      Find the Java 8 location

      Find the "home" of your Java 8 installation. On Ubuntu, use the following terminal command:

      $ sudo update-alternatives --list java

      In this case, the Java home is "/usr/lib/jvm/java-8-openjdk-amd64/" (this value will be used as an example throughout the rest of these instructions).

      Option 1: Install from an archive (.tar.gz)

      Download and extract the RevMan_5_4_unix.tar.gz file. Then find the "Review Manager 5.4" file in the extracted folder and open it with a text editor. Uncomment and update the fourth line as follows.


      # Uncomment the following line to override the JVM search sequence



      # Uncomment the following line to override the JVM search sequence

      (Ensure that the path is set to the path identified in the prerequisite steps.)

      Option 2: Install using the executable installer (.sh file)

      Download the file. Find the folder in your terminal and make the installer executable:

      chmod +x ./

      Run the installer using the Java 8 version identified in the prerequisite steps:

      INSTALL4J_JAVA_HOME_OVERRIDE=/usr/lib/jvm/java-8-openjdk-amd64/ ./

      (You may want to run this command as the root user to install RevMan 5.4 system-wide. Otherwise make sure you have write access to both the installation path and the symlinks path.)
      Find the "Review Manager 5.4" file in the installation folder and open it with a text editor. Uncomment and update the fourth line as follows.


      # Uncomment the following line to override the JVM search sequence



      # Uncomment the following line to override the JVM search sequence

      (Ensure that the path is set to the path identified in the prerequisite steps.)