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How to use EndNote to organize references and format papers

Adding references to EndNote

Below are 5 ways to add references into your library.

  1. Importing PDFs
  2. Direct export from a databases
  3. Converting plain text citations
  4. EndNote's Online Search
  5. Manual entry

Note: You can delete references by dragging them into your Trash, or by selecting them, right clicking, and choosing Move References to Trash.

Importing PDFs

If you have a PDF file or folder of PDF files, you can import them into your library. When the PDF has a digital object identifier, it will generate a reference and bring that PDF into your library. When it does not have a DOI (often the case with older scanned articles), it will only bring the PDF into your library.

  1. Go to File and then hover over Import.
  2. Choose File or Folder.
  3. Click Choose... to locate that file or folder.
  4. Make sure the Import Option is PDF.
  5. Then click Import.

Direct export from a database

In many library-subscribed databases, you can do a search and then export citation data from your results into EndNote. This is a lot faster and more accurate than manual entry.

  1. Choose the database you want to search from the Articles & Databases page on the library website. Note: not all databases will create output in the same format; some databases do not provide export features.
  2. Conduct a search in your database of choice.
  3. Typically, you can select the citations you want to export to EndNote by clicking a checkbox next to them.
  4. Look for the words "download," "export," or "send to" (usually somewhere toward the top of your list of results)
  5. A file will be created, and you want to open that file using EndNote. Usually the file that is generated can be found in your Downloads folder.
  6. Any new references you add will appear in a temporary folder called Imported References, which appears on the left. (To see all of your references again, select All References.)
  7. You can now open any of these references and edit, annotate, or otherwise use them.

Converting plain text citations

You can use the Citation Finder website to convert plain text citations. Here are the steps:

  1. Enter a list of citations you want to find, with each one on a new line. Usually it's easiest to copy/paste these in.
  2. Choose "RIS" as the citation format.
  3. Search for matches.
  4. Review the matched citations. Check each result and select the correct match for each item. You can edit the citation text and search again if a good match wasn't found. If no correct match can be found, leave the item with no matches selected.
  5. Download all the selected citations.
  6. When you open the file with your citations, it should open in your most recently used EndNote library.

EndNote's Online Search

There are a very few databases that you can search from within EndNote. In order to do this, find Online Search on the left hand side of your screen under your groups, then do the following:

  1. Choose a database to connect to from the list. Some are displayed on the left under Online Search. You can find more options by clicking more...
  2. Enter search term(s) making sure to search in the proper field(s). Add additional terms with AND, OR, NOT.
  3. Click Search.
  4. The first 25 results will display. You can click 50, 100, or the total number to load more.
  5. Select the references you want to add and click the plus sign.
  6. The references you selected will be added to your EndNote library.

Manual entry

If you want to cite something that doesn't exist in a database or catalog, you may need to manually add it to your EndNote library.

  1. In the menu at the top of the EndNote interface, click References and select New Reference. 
  2. The new reference is displayed. The default reference type is journal article, but there is a dropdown where you can select a different reference type.
  3. Enter text into the fields. Move from field to field by using the tab key or click in the field to enter information.
  4. Once you have finished entering all the information, click Save.
  5. You can close the editing window, and the reference will be saved to your EndNote library.