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Organizing and Creating Information

Participate in the scholarly conversation ethically and efficiently. Learn more about citation management and attribution in the production of new knowledge.


This page was created to help you:

  • Import, edit, and organize references using EndNote
  • Select and change citation style in a document
  • Manage references throughout the research process
  • Describe why you would choose EndNote over other software

What can it do?

EndNote is a powerful tool for collecting and citing bibliographic references. You can create groups to organize and share your references, and use any of the 5000+ output filters or customize your output to get exactly what you want. EndNote is very good at handling large libraries and imported files, and the output styles are customizable. The PDFs and associated files are located locally on your machine, so you are only limited to the amount of storage on your computer (vs. cloud storage limits).

Citation or reference managers can do the following:

  • Manage citations/references
  • Organize PDFs and notes
  • Generate and format references, footnotes, and bibliographies
  • Share your library and collaborate with others
  • Save you time and frustration when wrangling research sources

EndNote is licensed for Brown faculty, staff, and students on Brown owned or personally owned computers, and is available for download in Brown's Software Catalog.

Setting Up EndNote


Download the latest version of EndNote from Brown's software catalog. You'll be prompted to enter your Brown username and password. Open the downloaded package and follow the installation prompts.

Register Online

Register for an online EndNote account. This is not required but will allow you to sync your library to the cloud and share your library with others.

Create Your Library

Open EndNote. If you are on a PC, you will see a gray blank screen. If you are on a Mac, you will only see a toolbar on the top of your screen. You will need to create your first library by clicking "File," then "New." 

Note: You can create multiple EndNote libraries, but can only configure one to sync with your online account.

Configure Online Syncing

For PC users, click "Edit" in the top toolbar, then "Preferences." For Mac users, click "EndNote 20" in the top toolbar, then "Preferences." Select "Sync" from the left-side menu, then click "Enable Sync":


From there, you will be prompted to enter your account details. Online syncing is not necessary to use EndNote. However, it is necessary if you'd like to share references with others, access your library from a different computer, or recover a lost library. 


If you are successfully synced to your online account, you will see a green check mark next to "Sync Status."

Adding and Collecting References

There are three main ways to populate your EndNote library with references:

Add references manually

To enter references by hand: From the top menu bar, select the new reference icon, or click "References" from the top toolbar, then "New Reference."


Select the appropriate reference type, such as Journal Article, from the drop-down menu. (This is important because it determines the fields that will show in the citation.)

  • Remember to enter multiple author names on separate lines (with a hard return after each name).  
  • You can enter author names either last name first with a comma ("Smith, Jane") or first name first ("Jane Smith").
  • When entering a corporate or institutional author name like "Brown University" or "Centers for Disease Control," enter a comma after the name. This will prevent EndNote from inverting or abbreviating the name as it would for an individual author's.
  • When typing in the title of an item, do not use the hard return. Instead, let EndNote wrap the text for you.


Export References from a Database

Search the database via the web interface as you normally would. Select the references you want, then save or export them. Every database works a little differently. Some offer an obvious EndNote export, like Web of Science:


And some offer a more generic RIS export (like Ebsco databases):


Most databases can export to EndNote with these general steps:

  1. Select the citations you want to save with an "Add" button or check box.
  2. Look for a "Save" or "Export" button.
  3. Choose "Save to EndNote" or "Export to your bibliographic software" or a similar option. In many cases you want the RIS format. Some databases may also allow you to batch multiple citations for export. 
  4. Open the resulting downloaded file. Your computer will most likely associate the file type with EndNote and prompt you to select a library to house the references. 

Import PDFs

In many cases, EndNote can generate bibliographic information from PDFs that have a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number. Most journal articles have this number embedded in the file. If the PDF does not have a DOI number or if the PDF does not have OCR encoded text (for example, if it was scanned from paper and not OCR'ed), this will not work.

To import a PDF, go to File → Import.


Then navigate to the PDF you'd like to upload. You can select one or several. To select several, CTRL-click on the file in Windows or Command-click for Mac. Make sure to click "Options" in the bottom left corner of the prompt window:


This opens a list of import option filters. Choosing the correct import option will tell EndNote which file type to expect. If you forget to configure this, nothing will happen after you try to import your file. Choose "PDF File or Folder," then click "Import":


Organizing References

View and Sort

By default, all of your references are listed together in a central collection called "My Library." You can use this area to organize and browse through your references. 

Sort references by clicking on the column names (e.g., Author, Year, Added to Library).

You can toggle the sort order by clicking the same heading again to make it sort in reverse. You can also select additional fields to display by right clicking on any column heading. This can be useful if you are using a particular field for notes or to mark references read/unread.

Edit references by double clicking on the reference, then make changes in the resulting window tab. 

Create Groups

Organize your citations into categories by creating custom groups (folders). EndNote comes with three permanent groups that cannot be renamed or deleted. These are: All References, Unfiled, and Trash.

There are also temporary groups that are created by EndNote as needed such as Recently Added, Copied References, Duplicate References, etc.

To create a group, click "Groups" from the top toolbar, then click "Create Group." undefined

You can also right click (Windows) or CTRL-click (Mac) in the groups area on the left side panel, then click "Create Group."

A Smart Group allows you to set criteria (such as author) to automatically pull matching references into a dynamic group:


A group set allows you to create a group of groups. This could be useful, for instance, to organize projects and papers under particular classes. 

You will see all of your groups listed to the left. You can add references to each group by dragging and dropping. A reference can belong to several group; this will not create a duplicate.

Find Full Text

EndNote can be used to find full text, whether it's held by Brown subscription or is freely available. For best results off-campus, connect to Brown's VPN (instructions for this are here). You can also make some custom configurations in your EndNote preferences to increase the likelihood of successfully connecting to full text. Click EndNote - Settings (for Mac), or Edit - Settings (for PC) to open your preferences. Click the Find Full Text section. Make sure all of the boxes in this section are checked. 

Under the OpenURL path, paste in this URL:

Under the Authenticate with: field, paste in this URL:

Select one or several references to search for full text. Then click on the Find Full Text icon in the top toolbar. This will look like a page icon with a magnifying glass on top:

You may be prompted to log in with your Brown ID and password. The results of Find Full Text will be displayed in the left panel. Any resulting PDFs that were retrieved will be automatically attached to their corresponding reference.


Remove Duplicates

It's possible to deduplicate your EndNote library on a reference by reference basis, or all at once.

To deduplicate individual references:

  1. Select all of the references in your library by clicking CTRL-A.
  2. From the top toolbar under Library, click "Find Duplicates"

  1. From the resulting pop-up, review each record to decide which to keep and which to discard. Any differences will be highlighted.

To deduplicate all records at once:

  1. Follow the steps as described above, but instead of reviewing each record, click "Cancel."

  1. This brings you to a temporary holding area where all one reference for each pair is highlighted:

  1. To remove all copies, simply drag and drop them into the trash.

Share Your Library

You can share either your entire library or a specific group with other people.

To share your entire library, click File - Share. From the resulting pop up, enter the email address of the person you'd like to add.

In the resulting prompt, enter the email addresses of people you would like to add to your library, then click "Invite." This will automatically send them an email with instructions for setting up an EndNote online account, if they don't already have one, and instructions for accessing your library via the EndNote desktop.

To see libraries others have shared with you, click File → Open Shared Library, then select the email address of the library owner. 

To share a specific group, open the group in your library, then click the person icon:

Writing with EndNote

Add In-Text References

Use the EndNote Cite While You Write (CWYW) Plug-in in MS Word to insert references and to format citations and bibliographies automatically.

The EndNote plug-in should be added when you install EndNote on your computer.

Note: If after installation you do not see an EndNote tab in Microsoft Word Ribbon or Tools Menu, check "Word Options" tab in Windows or "Chooser" on a Mac. 

Inserting References in Your MS Word Document

  1. With your MS Word document open, place the cursor in the location where the citation should appear.
  2. Select the EndNote tab, then "Insert Citation." This tool searches your entire library (i.e., all reference fields for all references in all folders).
  3. Enter a term like the author or part of the reference title in the search box to find the reference or references to insert.
  4. Select the desired reference(s). To insert multiple references in one citation, click each reference while holding the Ctrl key.
  5. Click "Insert." Note the small arrow next to Insert, which will allow you to select custom options such as adding the reference to the bibliography only, or exclude the author or year if needed.


Once you insert a reference from your Library in MS Word, you'll notice that a new group is automatically created in your EndNote library specifically for the references embedded in your document:

Alternate Methods for Inserting References

  1. Highlight the desired reference in EndNote.
  2. In your MS Word document, place the cursor in the location where the citation should appear.
  3. Select the EndNote tab, then "Insert Citation," then "Insert Selected Citation(s)" from the drop-down.


  1. Open your word document and EndNote library side-by-side.
  2. Highlight the reference in EndNote.
  3. Drag and drop the reference to the correct location within Word.

Copy and Paste Formatted References

If you don't have a need for in-text citations followed by a bibliography and just want a quickly formatted citation to paste into Word (or an email, or anywhere else), go to your EndNote library. From the top menu, click "Tools," then "Output Styles," then select the bibliographic style you'd like.

 Next, right-click on the desired reference or references. Select "Copy Formatted," then paste it into your document.


Note: This creates plain text. It is not linked back to the EndNote reference, and you can't change the style once you copy/paste. For full functionality, you need to insert references using the "Cite While You Write" add-in. 

To Change Your Reference Style in Your Document:

Go to "Style" then choose the desired style from the drop down menu. If your journal style does not appear, select "Select another style" from the dropdown and select your style from that list. 


Additional Output Styles

If your preferred output style is not available, it is most likely available to download from EndNote Styles. For instance, you may be looking for a particular journal style. Simply search for the name of the style, then click "Download. Open the resulting file, then click "File," then "Save As," then close the style window. 

Learning Objectives

This page was designed to help you:

  • Import, edit, and organize references using EndNote
  • Select and change citation style in a document
  • Manage references throughout the research process
  • Describe why you would choose EndNote over other software
Did this page help you meet these objectives?
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