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EndNote Desktop: Introduction

Why use EndNote?

Please note that, currently, this guide is not being updated.

  • When you write an essay, project, report, dissertation or thesis, you're required to cite and reference each source of information that you use to inform your writing. This is essential in order to both avoid plagiarism and help demonstrate your evaluative skills. However, referencing can be tricky, particularly when handling large numbers of sources and having to comply with the intricacies of a referencing style.
  • EndNote is a referencing tool that may help you manage the process more effectively, enabling you to collect, store and organise references to books, articles and other documents. It also enables you to import those references into your Word document in the format of a specific referencing style.
  • EndNote's many referencing styles include ACM, APA (6th and 7th), Harvard (Bath), IEEE, RSC and Vancouver.

Who uses EndNote?

  • Many academics and postgraduate researchers use a software version called EndNote Desktop (also known as EndNote 20 / X9). You should use EndNote Desktop if you need to merge references from multiple documents.
  • To find out more about both versions, please refer to our Reference Management Software guide.
  • Note: you can transfer references between EndNote Desktop and EndNote Online.

How to set up and save your EndNote library

  • EndNote libraries are made up of two parts: the .enl file and the .data folder. These must be set up before you can do anything. These two parts must be kept together, both are needed for the library to work correctly.

EndNote Desktop library and data folder.

  • Be careful not to delete the data folder or move it to a different place from the EndNote library and do not try to place the EndNote library inside this folder.
  • EndNote libraries should be kept on your computer's hard drive. Storing and editing libraries on a network drive can lead to corruption and performance issues.
  • EndNote libraries should never be stored in SharePoint or in cloud-syncing folders such as DropBox, OneDrive, Box, SugarSync, etc. Syncing folders corrupt EndNote libraries over time.
  • Always open the EndNote program first, then open the library. Do not open libraries by double clicking, as this also can corrupt the library.
  • Mac users must save to Applications folder (default is iCloud).

Sharing your EndNote library

You can share your EndNote library, including pdfs and annotations, with other EndNote users, providing they are using EndNote X7 or later. Everyone you share the library with can add to, annotate and use the library at the same time, including adding attachments and deleting references, unless you only give them read only access. People sharing the library cannot change the name of the library, share it with others or make a backup copy of the library.

An activity feed shows who is making changes to references and groups for each library. If someone deletes a reference from the shared library, it is not recoverable.

  1. From the File menu select Share.
  2. Log into your EndNote Online account.
  3. Type the email address/es for people you wish to share the library with.
  4. Choose whether you wish to give them read-only or read-write access and click Invite.
  5. Close the dialog box.
  6. The people you have specified receive an email inviting them to share the library. They must accept in this email message to start sharing the library.

How to join a library someone has shared with you

  1. If you don't already have an EndNote Online account, you need to create one.
  2. Sync the online account with your Desktop version of EndNote.
  3. Once connected, select File then Open Shared Library.

If you are the one who has shared the library, you have access to this library on your desktop, online or on your iPad. if you have been invited to access someone else's library, you can only access this library from your desktop.

How to use EndNote Desktop

  1. Open the EndNote program and create a new library or open an existing library.
  2. Search the Library Catalogue, or a library database such as Scopus and Web of Science, for references to sources that may prove useful for your work.
  3. Select and export those references into your EndNote library. Alternatively, if necessary, you can manually create a reference for an item within EndNote. 
  4. Import those references, along with their corresponding in-text citations, into your Word document. This process is known as Cite while you write
  5. For more detailed instructions: click each of the headings near the top of this page, starting with 'Collect/Create References'.

Backing up your EndNote library

The recommended way of backing up your EndNote library is to create a compressed library file that includes both the EndNote library and its corresponding data file.

Saving to a compressed library file

  1. Open the EndNote library you wish to compress.
  2. From the File menu, select Compress Library (.enlx) then click Create.
  3. Select options in the Compress Library dialog box.
  4. EndNote Desktop compress library window.

  5. Click Next.
  6. Browse to the drive where you wish to save your compressed library.
  7. Change the name of the file from the name of the original EndNote library, for example, add the date.
  8. Click Save.
  9. After the compressed file is created, it can be moved to a cloud service like OneDrive, because you are not actively using the file.

Opening a compressed library file

  1. Move the compressed file to your device's hard drive.
  2. Open the EndNote program.
  3. Close any other EndNote library.
  4. From the File menu select Open Library.
  5. Open the compressed library file, which then splits back into two files and you can continue working with this library in the usual way.

Words of caution

  • If you decide to use EndNote, it's advisable to start learning to use it as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the final stages of writing when other aspects of the writing process are competing for attention! Furthermore, it's easier to export references into EndNote as soon as you discover them, rather than trying to do so retrospectively.
  • If you use EndNote (or any reference management tool), you still need to allow yourself sufficient time to check the accuracy of all the citations and references in your Word document. Some imported citations and references may contain elements that don't comply with the required referencing style.
  • When saving references, it's sensible to use multiple methods so that you have back-ups should something goes wrong. Databases provide options such as saving to email or PDF/Text file.
  • EndNote provides an option to create a compressed library file that you can use to take backups of the library.
  • If you experience problems, please refer to help/contacts.