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EndNote: Adding your references

Use EndNote to gather and organise references for your assignments and projects

From EndNote Click

If you have activated EndNote Click, the 'EN' icon will appear when accessing a compatible PDF article or document.

  • Click the icon to open the PDF in EndNote Click.
  • Add the reference, and associated PDF attachment, to your EndNote library by selecting:
    • Push to EndNote Web', if using EndNote Online.
    • 'Export to EndNote Desktop', if using EndNote20.
  • Select the desired destination group, or confirm the default 'Unfiled' group.

From PDFs - importing files automatically

To add PDF files automatically to your EndNote 20 library,

  • Create a new folder on your device for your PDF documents (one-time action).
  • (Now, or later) Save to the selected folder all the PDFs that you want to upload. 
  • Set EndNote Preferences to automatically upload the folder's contents (one-time action):
    • In EndNote, select 'Edit' from the menu bar.
    • Select 'Preferences'.
    • Select 'PDF handling'. 
    • Use the 'Select folder' option to navigate to your selected folder.
    • Click 'Apply' to confirm the setting.

Note: there will be a few minutes delay before any files in the selected folder appear in your EndNote20 library.


When uploading, EndNote will create a reference record for each PDF attachment:

  1. The reference record will be pre-populated if the PDF is appropriately coded.
  2. The file name will display in the title field - for referencing purposes, we advise manually editing the record to include the author, title and access details.


From PDFs - importing files or folders manually

To manually import into your EndNote library any PDFs already saved to your device:

  1. In EndNote, select 'File' from the menu bar,
  2. Select 'Import' then 'File'.
  3. An Import File popup window will display.  Screenshot X9 File Import box
  4. Click 'Choose' to navigate to your file.
  5. 'Import option' - ensure 'PDF' is selected.
  6. Select 'Import'.

A new EndNote record for the item will be created.  The reference record will be populated if the PDF is formatted appropriately - has an allocated DOI (digital object identifier).  If not, manual editing of the record will be required. 

To import a folder, follow the steps above with adjustments for folder.  Note:

  • Remember to check the 'Include subfolder' option if the selected folder has subfolders containing PDF documents.
  • The 'Import' popup includes an option to create a Group Set for the folder. Select if desirable.

From bibliographic databases - direct export

You can add entries into your EndNote library from most bibliographic databases using the direct export options. 

The terms used vary between databases - look for 'Export', 'Save citation', 'Download .ris' , 'Send to' or similar.

See the links below for details on directly exporting from selected bibliographic services:

Note: this method exports references for selected items into your EndNote library.  If the related PDF files are available on an open access basis, they will be added to the record as part of the transfer.  Other files will have to be added manually -  see 'Attaching PDF files/ figures to a reference' for details.

Adding your own notes to a reference

Once you have added an item to your EndNote20 library, you can add your own notes as a reminder of the item's relevance or the significant points that were mentioned.


To add brief comments or notes on an item:

  • Highlight the reference in your EndNote20 library.
  • Select References from the menu bar then select 'Edit reference'.
  • Scroll to the 'Research Notes' field.
  • Enter your text then 'Save' to confirm.


To view your notes on the central display panel:

  • In your EndNote20 library:
  • Select 'Edit' from the menu bar.
  • Select 'Preferences'.
  • Select 'Display Fields' from the resulting  pop-up window.
  • Select a column that is not essential, e.g. Column 6: Rating.
  • From the dropdown menu, select 'Research Notes'.
  • 'Apply' to confirm.

When there is no export/ Import option?

To add references to your EndNote library when there is no option for direct export, e.g. for reports, websites, YouTube videos, blogs:

  1. Open your EndNote library.
  2. Select References from main menu.
  3. Select New Reference.
  4. The reference window will open.
  5. Choose the most relevant Reference Type for your item, e.g. Report, Webpage, Audiovisual Material or Online multimedia, Blog.  The Reference Type dictates which fields display in the record.
  6. Enter the author names in the correct format (to ensure that any subsequent citations and references display correctly in MS Word):
    • For personal names, use the format surname comma firstname , e.g. Stewart, M.
    • For organisations, use the format organisation name comma, e.g. Scottish Government,
    • Ensure each author is entered on a separate line. [Note: red text will appear if an author's name has not previously appeared in your EndNote Library].
  7. Enter the Year, Title and any other relevant information for the particular item, e.g. URL, in the corresponding fields.
  8. If desired, add your notes on the item in the Research Notes field.
  9. Close the reference window.
  10. Select Save in the pop up window (or click on another reference in your library to generate the 'Save' option).

From EndNote's Online Search

The Online Search function within EndNote20 is offered as a quick way of searching the PubMed collection and some university catalogues. 

As this is of limited use for the vast majority of searches, Library staff recommend that you use the alternative options featured on this page when searching bibliographic resources.

Copyright Statement

Creative Commons License
This work in this guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.