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Research Guides


Request a Consultation

Request a Consultation -- to meet with me, choose undergraduate student help, click my name (John Fullerton) in the left column, and then select the date and time.

Get the EndNote Software

The Library in partnership with the CIS and the Office of Graduate Studies has made Endnote available for free through a campus-wide site license. All A&M students, faculty, and staff can order the software from the TAMU Software Store . For personal copies a link to download the software will be sent to your email account approximately one hour after your order is placed. Departmental copies can be ordered through the TAMU Software Center . To place a departmental order, click the Forms menu and then select the IT Self-Service website link. On PC’s be sure to extract the downloaded file before installing. EndNote is also available on the Student Computing Lab computers, including the public computers in the A&M Libraries.

Program Walk-through

Notice: The first two sections of this guide have been exchanged (now Basic Use is first). This may be easier for people who are new to the program. Early in the section Getting Started are reminders and other kinds of information that may be more important for experienced users of the program. There is also possibly important information for Mac users, depending on their version of the Mac software and their version of Word.

EndNote Overview showing options for importing added references and outputting referred citations

(Accessible text description)

Referring to the graphic above a very basic workflow in using EndNote is to get references into EndNote (down arrows at the top) and then make a major use of the references by citing them in Word (green down arrow under the graphic). A typical way to get a reference into EndNote is to find the reference in a database and then export it into EndNote. Databases vary in how they label the export function. It may be called export, download, cite, citation, send to, or save. Usually there will be an option presented as part of exporting (maybe in a secondary window) for an EndNote or possibly RIS format. Once the reference is stored in an EndNote library, you can use the EndNote ribbon in Word on a PC and now on a Mac to automatically cite the reference in Word and to choose or change the citation style.

The graphic above shows several ways to get references into EndNote and to create citations or bibliographies.

Create Library File

When first starting with EndNote, you should create your library file. This is like a blank Word document, though in EndNote it is a number of files, directories and sub-directories. The EndNote library is the file structure where EndNote will save your references and attach full text. To create an EndNote library, click the EndNote File menu + New and choose a directory and file name. You can have any number of EndNote libraries, however, if you keep all your references in one library, it may simplify knowing where a given reference is and resolve having multiple versions of the same reference. You can use groups in your library for organization. Some other options for multiple libraries could be a library for personal use and a library for work or a separate library for a major, separate task.

An EndNote library consists of the named library file (with a .enl file extension) and a corresponding folder with a .Data file extension in the same directory on the computer. An example library name with the file extension is My EndNote Library.enl The folder is My EndNote Library.Data The folder consists of sub-folders including a PDF sub-folder if you attach PDFs to any of the references. It is important to not edit any of the data within the .Data folder. EndNote treats it as part of its library database structure and editing data directly in the folder may cause the EndNote library to not work. It is fine to rename a PDF before attaching it to a reference, however, not after attaching it.

If you want to move the library to another location (same or different computer) you can do so by copying the library file plus the .Data folder and moving them to the new location. The .enl "library" file has been called a snapshot. The main data for the library is actually in the .Data folder, and, in fact, EndNote can recreate the .enl file from the .Data folder, if needed.

Adding References

EndNote has a few options for adding references, organizing and accessing references within EndNote, and citing references in Word and if one discovers a particular method through trial and error, it's easy to settle on a process that may not be best, though I could not say that the following method is the best method.

As I understand at present it is often not possible to obtain both the reference data and the full text at the same time (in the same request).

The method that does at times get both the reference data and the full text in the same request is importing PDFs. However, there are limitations to this method. Some of these limitations are: the PDFs have to be text searchable (not a scanned or graphical copy; the text has to be highlightable); the PDF has to have a DOI number appearing early in the PDF (an example DOI is 10.1080/02763869.2012.641841). Original copies of articles from before 2000 will not have DOIs; sometimes DOIs might be assigned years after an item is published, however, the DOI would not appear on the original copy and EndNote would not be able to find the reference without seeing the DOI in the PDF. EndNote does not identify the reference data from the PDF; it searches Crossref and Pubmed for the DOI to obtain the reference data. If the reference cannot be found by the DOI search, EndNote creates a new record for the PDF in the EndNote library with the name of the PDF in angle brackets in the title field with the pdf attached to the record. It has not yet been possible to directly move that pdf to another record (though one could copy the pdf out of the record and then attach it to another reference) or could add the reference data to that record. If the item does have a DOI (perhaps for the case when the pdf is not text searchable, so EndNote could not read the DOI), if you input the DOI in the DOI field of the reference, you can do a Reference Update and EndNote will be able to search for the reference data (on the PC, select the item in the library (highlight it), click the References menu, then Find Reference Updates).

It would be nice if EndNote could get both the reference data and the pdf at the same time. Maybe this will be possible some day. In order to import a pdf, if the pdfs were obtained by library database searches, then the reference data could have likely been obtained at the time of locating the pdfs. It would still be two steps, getting the reference data and then adding the pdf.

From the perspective of working in the library, direct export seems like the most thorough option--thinking about this from the library perspective. Here one searches library databases (though also Google Scholar and journal websites often have options for exporting references), then exports the references to EndNote. PDFs can then be attached to the references. For adding the pdfs, there are three good options: getting the pdf at the time of getting the reference; or later using EndNote's Find Full Text function to add the pdfs (though it will probably not find all pdfs); and then following up with OpenURL Link searches for references not found using Find Full Text. (These options tend to find only journal articles, not e-books, conference papers, and other types of full text publications.) If OpenURL Link does not provide access to the pdf, one could use the OpenURL Link menu screen to request the article through Get It For Me (the library's interlibrary loan) or make the Get It For Me request in some other way (including by filling out the online request form from one's Get It For Me account).

Databases vary in how they allow copying of references into EndNote. Here are a few examples for different database vendors.

With your Endnote library open, click on

  1. The EndNote File (menu) + Import + either File or Folder (File imports one PDF, Folder imports all PDFs in a folder)
  2. In the Import window that opens, select the file or folder to import
  3. Set the Import Option to PDF
  4. Select options for Duplicates and Text Translation; Next to Duplicates select either “Import All” (imports all references without checking for duplicates), “Discard Duplicates” (EndNote compares some data fields including author, year, and title and when "Discard Duplicates" is selected EndNote does not import duplicates), or “Import into Duplicates Library.”
  5. EndNote will search for the full reference data for each PDF using the DOI from each PDF and will create an item in your library with the PDF attached and will add the reference, if found. In order for Endnote to find the reference from a PDF, the PDF must be text-based (so that the text can be selected in the PDF) and not a graphic scan, and the DOI number must appear in the first few pages of the PDF.
  6. If EndNote does not find the reference, it will still import the PDF to a new record and it puts the PDF file name in angle brackets in the title field. One strategy to try to complete the reference is to find a DOI for the journal article, put the DOI in the DOI field of the record, and then do a Reference Update. Click the one-line listing of the item in the EndNote library, then click the EndNote References menu, then click Find Reference Updates.

You can assign a folder on your computer to be your EndNote import folder and then EndNote will import any PDFs placed in that folder (not subfolders of that folder though). To select this folder on the PC, in EndNote click the Edit menu + Preferences + PDF Handling + check the box for "Enable automatic importing" and select the folder on the computer. There are some limitations with importing PDFs mentioned in the Overview tab of Adding References.

It is also possible if EndNote's search panel is displayed (if not, click "Show Search Panel" at upper right in EndNote) to drag a PDF to a background area in the search panel (not one of the search fields) and EndNote will import the PDF.

With your Endnote library open, click on

  1. The References menu + New Reference.
  2. Use the Reference Type dropdown list to change the reference types, if necessary.
  3. Simply type in the reference information. (For Author, type author names one full name per line. You can input as last, first (with a comma)--this is the recommended format OR as first last)
  4. If typing a corporate author, put a comma at the last of the name (to prevent EndNote from treating the corporate author name as a personal name and using the last word as the last name), for example: Department of Energy,
    • EndNote help adds If your corporate author name includes a comma in the name itself, use two commas in place of the first comma: California,, Irvine
  5. When you have finished, close the New Reference window. You will be prompted to save the reference.
  6. The New Reference will appear in your library automatically.

Trying to import references that are available as text (for example, in a citation within a pdf or as text in a Word document perhaps from an earlier document created before using EndNote) is not as simple as exporting a reference from a database or as reliable, however, there are some products that can be found online that may be of help. One free tool is called Citation Finder . The original source database for the project seems to have been Medline, however, the tool does find some non-medical references also.

The website simply prompts for entering citations. Once citations are copied into the field (the Word citations may need to be formatted so that they each start on a new line), it will display some more options. Click search and the application starts searching for the individual references and displays what it has found. Sometimes it will display a few options for one reference and the highlighted one is counted as selected. If you scroll through the screen the last button is "download all selected citations", and if you've selected the RIS format in step 2, then you could import the RIS file into EndNote or another citation manager.

For the references that the website does not find, the following strategies may work.

For journal articles, you could start with Google Scholar (since it is somewhat universal in its access). If you're off campus, try the library's link to Google Scholar (button on so that you get the benefit of linking to library subscription sources. From on campus, simply access Google Scholar directly (or with the library's link). From on campus either method should recognize on campus access and give access to the library's subscriptions. Google Scholar's reference data is not edited and is not thorough (like subscription databases tend to be). So, linking from Google Scholar for a journal article and going to the subscription database or journal source may give access to a more thorough reference. (This does start being a good bit more work, however, once the process is set, it may be workable.) Sometimes Google Scholar will display "Full text@TAMU" and that will give access to library subscriptions. If the library has the article from a full text source, very likely that source will have a way to download or export the reference. If "Full text @TAMU" is not displayed, sometimes clicking the "more" link will display a "Full text @TAMU" link. Simply clicking the title of the item in Google Scholar's search results may also work; if that link goes to the article reference, that site may give a way to download the reference (and is a good way to get the reference, perhaps identical in some cases to using "Full text @ TAMU").

For books, try using the quick search on the library website (the search field on If the book is found, click the magnifying glass icon at the right, click "Detailed Record" and then click the link on the resulting screen among the links at the right for Export. On the new screen, make sure Direct Export in RIS Format is selected, and click Save. That should send the reference to EndNote. Another option is using the library database WorldCat to get book references, though it may be a little more complicated (not much more complicated).

Selecting a Style

Selecting a style in the desktop version of EndNote is not essential for citing in a given style in Word. In order to cite using a style, the main thing needed is to select the style at some time in Word to finalize the format, though it is common to select the style in Word when adding citations in the document. You can set a style in EndNote and see the preview of references in EndNote. To set the style, click the style selection list at the top left of EndNote (on a PC). If the style you need is in the immediate list, just select it. If not, click Select Another Style and then search the following window. If the style is not in that window, you can download the style from the EndNote website and then it should be listed in the window to select it.


In the EndNote library you can sort by any of the columns including the "Mark as Read/Unread" and file attachment columns by clicking on the labels at the top of columns. Clicking the label again will reverse the sort.

Searching the EndNote Library

After you've added references to an EndNote library, you can search the library. To search the library you can use the Quick Search field at the top of the program or, with the Search Panel showing, search using the options in the Search Panel. In the Search Panel, if you click on the field to be searched (like Author or Title), a few of the options may require scrolling up in the list. The options including PDF will search for words in any attached PDFs (if they are text readable) and the options that include PDF with Notes or PDF Notes will search for any comments you've added to PDFs as annotations.

Working with PDFs

You can attach pdf’s and other files to references. The pdf or files have to be stored on the computer before attaching a copy. To attach a pdf:

By selecting the PDF

  1. Click the reference in the EndNote library.
  2. In the Tab Panel click the paper clip icon (alternatively, after clicking the reference, right-click the same reference, point at File Attachments in the context menu and then click Attach File)
  3. Locate the file on the PC, click the file, then click the Open button. (See note about relative links.)
  4. When you leave the reference, you will be prompted to save it with the attached pdf. 

By dragging the PDF

  1. You can locate the PDF to be added in File Explorer and then drag the file to the listing of the reference in the EndNote library. (This is the one-line listing of the reference in the library panel.)
  2. When you leave the reference, you will be prompted to save it with the attached pdf.

Note: when attaching a PDF by selecting it, there is a check box in the dialog box that is checked by default "Copy this file to the default file attachment folder and create a relative link." If it is checked, EndNote will store its own copy of the PDF in the PDF subfolder of the library folder. Afterwards if you copy or move the library, it is easy for EndNote to keep track of the PDF. If the box is unchecked, then EndNote will not make a copy and if you copy the library to another computer, the link to the PDF will not work (unless the drive was a network drive that is accessible to the other computer).

Using the built-in PDF viewer

If a reference has an attached PDF, you can see the preview of the PDF In the three-tab panel if the PDF tab is selected. To expand the view of the PDF, from that panel, click the first icon at the top left of the panel (a square with a diagonal arrow). To view the library again, click the first icon at the top left of the PDF viewer (a square with a diagonal arrow) or click the lower x at the top right of the program (not the upper x which will close the program). You could also keep the PDF window open and use the EndNote Window menu to view the library window.

Using the computer's default PDF viewer

Click a reference in the EndNote library, then right-click the reference, click File Attachments and then click Open File.

(The Find Full Text function in EndNote is different than the OpenURL linking from the A&M Library databases to the full text source that is called Find Text @ TAMU)

To have EndNote search for PDFs for references, select the references and then click the EndNote References menu + Find Full Text + Find Full Text. EndNote will create a Find Full Text group at the last of the groups panel and show the search process and group the references where the PDF was found or not found. This search can handle many references in one search, will search in the background, and attaches the PDFs when they are found. When the PDF is not found, you may be able to locate the PDF using the OpenURL Link search.

This search will likely have very different results when used on campus versus off campus. Our subscription vendor sites that provide many of the PDFs will see the requesting IP address from on campus as a subscriber and Find Full Text will be able to add more PDFs. Though it is not a process that we support, you can try using VPN from off campus and that may improve the Find Full Text results. Find Full Text will probably only work with journal articles.

Find Full Text has some configuration options accessible from the EndNote Edit menu + Preferences + Find Full Text. You can select some of the "technologies" or sources that EndNote uses to Find Full Text. This is the screen where the library's OpenURL link resolver is configured and this is essential for the OpenURL Link search to work. However, it appears that EndNote's Find Full Text function is not able to find full text using our Library's link resolver (possibly because our link resolver presents an intermediate screen, not directly linking to the full text). One configuration recommendation is not selecting PubMed if your subject area is not likely to be represented in PubMed, because that will speed up the full text search.

Find Full Text is probably an easier way to add a PDF, however, in some cases Find Full Text may not be able to obtain a PDF. In fact, we have seen varying success using Find Full Text. The OpenURL Link search typically will find a few additional full text articles than Find Full Text and sometimes can be much more effective (perhaps depending on the subject field). One recommendation is to try Find Full Text first and then use OpenURL Link for the items where full text was not found through Find Full Text.

Before OpenURL Link is an option, EndNote has to be configured with the library's OpenURL link resolver URL.

To use the OpenURL Link search, click on a reference in the EndNote library, right-click it, and then point at URL and then click OpenURL Link (for this purpose NOT Open URL, a process that simply accesses a URL in the record). This should open a browser screen with our Find Text @ TAMU options. If a full text source is listed, click the source and download and then attach the PDF. If a full text source is not listed, you can scroll down in the screen and click "Search in Google Scholar". Sometimes Google Scholar will provide access to the PDF. If you cannot find the PDF, you can click the "Get it for me" link (requires a free Get it for me account) and the library will try to get a PDF copy of the article.

You can highlight and add comments in PDFs using EndNote's PDF viewer. You can also highlight and add comments using the computer's PDF viewer. Comments added using Adobe Acrobat are viewable by EndNote's PDF viewer and vice versa. Pop-up notes can be added to highlighted text in EndNote's PDF viewer or in Adobe Acrobat; the highlighted text when viewed in EndNote's viewer does not show that there is a comment, however, double-clicking the highlighting will display the pop-up note.

You can search your library for your PDF comments using the Search Panel in the EndNote library. In the Search Panel, if you click on the field to be searched (like Author or Title), the options for searching for PDF comments may require scrolling up in the list. The options including PDF will search for words in any attached PDFs (if they are text readable) and the options that include PDF with Notes or PDF Notes will search for any comments you've added to PDFs as annotations. Comments added using Adobe Acrobat as the PDF viewer, through they are visible in EndNote's PDF viewer, are not searchable through the Search Panel.