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EndNote: Managing your references

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

Editing your references

We recommend that you check for accuracy any references you have added to your EndNote library.  Most will display perfectly well but you may need to amend or declutter others. 

For example, the author information may appear in the title field as shown below.

Screenshot from EndNote20showing author in title field

To open the reference,

  • Click on the reference to highlight it in your EndNote20 or EN21 library.
  • Select 'References' from the menu bar
  • Select 'Edit Reference'.
  • Click on a field to edit, e.g.
    • Author - ensure each name is listed on a separate line.
    • Author - ensure names follow the 'surname comma initial' or 'institution name comma' format.
    • Title - ensure the text is in sentence case.
  • 'Save' any changes.

Attaching PDFs, figures to a reference

To attach a PDF or other file to a pre-existing EndNote record:

  • In your EndNote library, click the reference to highlight it. 
  • From the main menu, select 'References' then 'Edit Reference'.
  • The view panel will appear on the right.
  • Select 'Attach File'.
  • Your file manager box will open. Navigate to your file and select it.
  • 'Save' to confirm.

Note: EndNote will create a copy of the file and store it in a folder associated with your EndNote library.

Working with your PDFs in EndNote

To annotate a PDF attachment within EndNote 20.

In your EndNote20 or EN21 library:

  • Click the reference to select it.
  • From the main menu, select 'References' then 'Edit references'.
  • Open the attachment then select the menu and sub-menu items to:
    • Add sticky notes.
    • Highlight or strike through text.
    • Resize the page display.

Remember to save your changes when closing the file.

Checking for duplicate records

If you import references from more than one source, you are likely to have duplicate entries.  EndNote can help you to manage these.

To find duplicate records:

  • Highlight 'All References' or the relevant group.
  • Select 'Library' from the EndNote menu bar.
  • Select 'Find duplicates'.
  • A pop-up window will display with 2 boxes, showing both entries.
  • You can compare these individually and select the best record to keep - an option if you are working with a small number of items.
  • Alternatively, and more appropriately for large numbers of records:
    • Click 'Cancel' on the pop-up box - this highlights all the identified duplicate records.Screenshot EndNote20 highlighting duplicate records
    • Drag all shaded references to EITHER a new custom group - useful if you need to record numbers of duplicates - OR to the 'Trash' (appears in the left panel under 'All References').

A further manual check is also recommended however - EndNote looks for exact matches in the author, title and year fields so won't identify items which differ even slightly.

To display any remaining duplicate items next to each other:

  • Click the 'Title' column header - this sorts the list and displays the references in order by title.
  • Drag duplicate references as above.

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 EndNote 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 EndNote 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.

Saving your EndNote library

Remember to save and backup your Desktop library on a regular basis.

In your EndNote20 or EN21 library:

  • Select 'File' from the menu bar.
  • Select 'Save a copy'.

We strongly recommend that you store this copy on a different device, or on a cloud server.

[This copy is a single file so can be stored safely on a cloud server.]

If you also have an EndNote Online account,

remember to sync your EndNote 20 or EN21 library regularly.  This enables access to your EndNote library when you are away from your usual device.

To setup automatic syncing:

In your EndNote20 or EN21 library:

  • Select 'Edit' from the menu bar. 
  • Select 'Preferences'.
  • Select 'Sync' from the menu.
  • Ensure your EndNote Online account details are correct.
  • Click the 'Sync automatically' check box.


To run a sync manually:

In your EndNote20 or EN21 library:

Select 'Library' from the menu bar, then 'Sync'.

Choosing 'Journal Article' or 'Electronic Article' as Reference Type

EndNote automatically assigns the 'Journal Article' reference type to imported journal articles.  This is ideal in most cases, when the article has meaningful page numbers and also appears in print.

However, this is problematic when referencing journal articles that are only available electronically.  In this case, the URL or DOI should be included in the reference when using the Cite Them Right Harvard style.

When you have an article that only appears electronically, please amend the Reference Type.

  • Ensure 'Reference Type' = 'Electronic Article'.

Deleting your references

There may be occasions when you wish to delete references:

To delete a reference from a custom group:

  • Click the group to display its references.
  • Highlight the reference(s) you wish to remove from the group.
  • Select 'Groups' from the EndNote menu bar.
  • Select 'Remove references from group'.


To delete a reference from your EndNote library

Please think carefully before proceeding.

If you are completely convinced you have no further use (ever) for this reference:

  • Select the relevant reference(s).
  • Right click to display the references options.
  • Select 'Move to trash'.

Items will remain in the 'Trash' until you close the program and select the 'Empty Trash' option.