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EndNote Guide: Add References

Opening EndNote and Creating a Library

In EndNote, the term "Library" describes a collection of bibliographic records. The default library, My EndNote Library will be saved onto your desktop -- includes two files (.enl and .data) which are interdependent. It is important to keep these two files in the same folder!
Your EndNote Library may contain citations to journal articles, books, websites, etc.
  1. To open and create an EndNote Library, launch EndNote.
  2. Choose Create a new EndNote library (or click on File and select New).
  3. Specify a location for your library on your computer and give your library a filename (e.g., PTSD and CBT).
    • It is recommended that you use the default library, My EndNote Library and use Groups to organize the references by subject, assignment, project, etc.

Adding References

From the PubMed results page, you can use the checkboxes to select specific citations to export. Otherwise, if you don't check any citations, PubMed selects all of the search results. Note, you may also store references on the Clipboard and then follow the steps below from the clipboard.

  1. When you are ready to export, open the EndNote Library you want to use to import.
  2. From PubMed, click Send to and select Citation Manager.
    • If necessary, adjust the Number to Send so that it is greater than the number you wish to export. The maximum import is 200.
    • Click Create File. The downloaded filename will be citations.nbib. Note where your browser saves these downloaded files (e.g., Downloads).
  3. If you are prompted by your web browser to Open file, click Open. Specify EndNote as the program (or application on a Mac) to open and import file to EndNote.
    • Alternatively, you can right-click on the downloaded file, select Open with and select EndNote.
  4. Switch from your browser to EndNote and your references should appear in the Imported References group



Do Not Use the Online Search Mode (Globe Icon)
General Subject Search
It is better to search PubMed and then add  the references to your EndNote Library.  This is because the way EndNote searches PubMed.  EndNote only searches for the exact words that match your search.  Whereas a search in PubMed also translates your search words to Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) which increases the number of citations retrieved. Also, when doing a search in PubMed you are able to limit the search to journals owned by Life West or available for free. 

​Do Use the Online Search Mode (Globe Icon) 
Specific Search 
EndNote does well with a specific author, article or title search.  If you do an author search using EndNote the format for the author must be enter as Smith, A.B.  A comma is needed after the last name and a period is needed after each initial. Organizations (corporate names) must be enter as the full title and a comma placed after it (Centers for Disease Control,).

It is a Preview Mode
The Online Search Mode is considered a preview mode and will not automatically add the references found to your library.  This mode allows you to decide which references to keep. 


In Google Scholar you can import individual citations (not groups of citations) into EndNote. You must first configure Google Scholar.

  1. Go to Google Scholar (
    • At the top of the Google Scholar page, click Settings.
    • Under Bibliography manager, click the button next to Show links to import citations into and select EndNote. The default is BibText. 
  2. Click Save. You will be returned to the Google Scholar home page.
  3. Run a search. You should now see Import into Endnote as one of the options beneath each citation. Click this link to download the single reference into the file, scholar.enw.
  4. At this point, open the EndNote Library you wish to import references into.
  5. Locate the scholar.enw files to import. Highlight one of the files and right-click to Open with and select EndNote.
  6. Switch from your browser to EndNote and your references should appear in the Imported References group.
  1. From the EbscoHost Database search results page, click on the article title to display the Tool column on the right hand side of the screen.
    • Use the Add to Folder icon if you want to export more than one citation at a time.
    • Once you have gathered your selected items, click Folder View (right side of screen) to view the selected items.
  2. Click Export and select Direct Export in RIS Format (e.g. CITAVI, EasyBib, EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero)
  3. Click Save. The downloaded file will be named delivery.ris.
  4. Open the EndNote Library you wish to add the reference(s) if it is not alread opened.
  5. If you are prompted by your web browser to Open file, click Open. Specify EndNote as the program (or application on a Mac) to open and import file to EndNote.
    • Alternatively, you can right-click on the downloaded file, select Open with and select EndNote.
  6. Your references should appear in the Imported References group.

While EndNote makes it easy to import references from a database (e.g., PubMed), there are times you will need to manually create one. For example, if you are citing a webpage or website, you will need to manually create the reference in EndNote.

To manually add a reference, click the New Reference icon (or click References tab and select New Reference). From the “New Reference” box follow the steps below:

  1. Select the appropriate Reference Type (e.g., Webpage). The default is Journal Article.
  2. Complete the fields required by your output style (e.g., NLM). 
    • For NLM the following fields are needed in a webpage: Author or Organization, Title, Type of Medium, Place of Publication, Publisher, Date of Publication, Date of Citation, URL
  3. To save, click the X (upper right corner) of the Reference window (or  button on upper left corner for Mac).

    • Note: Be careful not to close the entire library by mistake! If you do this, you will have to re-launch your library and re-enter a new reference.

Adding References via EndNote Watched Folder

If the folder was set up in Edit > Preferences > PDF Handling, any PDFs stored there will be automatically imported into EndNote desktop version the next time the program is opened.  EndNote will attempt to fill out the proper fields.  its accuracy depends on how the PDF was created in the first place.

If you import only the PDF, rather than manually attach it to an existing citation, EndNote can generate a complete and accurate citation only if the invisible “metadata”—especially the DOI (digital object identifier)--is imbedded in the PDF.   Whenever an imported PDF generates a strange citation, then this metadata is probably absent.  This can happen with PDFs retrieved from smaller publishers, and will definitely happen when importing PDFs of scanned print articles.

In the example below, the first two records where article titles are enclosed in <brackets> were generated from PDFs scanned from a print journal.  The user had given the PDFs a meaningful filename, and put them in the EndNote Watched folder in order to import them directly into EndNote.  EndNote imported the filename of each PDF into the Title field.     

Tip:  Therefore, when you suspect that a PDF is likely to generate faulty metadata, you have two choices:

  • Import the PDF, open it and copy its title, author and other visible data into the appropriate fields. Resizing windows to be side by side helps.
  • First manually enter or import the reference from a database, and then attach the PDF.   


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