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EndNote Basics: Adding References

Last Updated: Feb 19, 2024 11:30 AM


Below we describe 7 ways to add references into your library.

  1. Manual Entry
  2. EndNote's Online Search
  3. Direct Export from a Database
  4. Direct Export from UB Libraries Search
  5. Importing PDFs
  6. Importing from Another Reference Manager 
  7. Converting Plain Text Citations

Note: Delete references by dragging them into your Trash or by selecting them, right clicking, and choosing Move References to Trash.

1. Manual Entry

Every reference you plan on citing should be in EndNote. Some references will need to be manually added to your library.

  • In the menu at the top of the page, click References and select New Reference. There is also a corresponding icon to create a new reference.
  • The new reference is displayed. The default is journal article, but there is a dropdown where you can select a different reference type.
  • Enter text into the fields. Move from field to field by using the tab key or click in the field to enter information.
  • Once you have finished entering information, click Save.
  • You can close the window and you will see the new reference in the center of the page.


2. EndNote's Online Search

You can run a database search from within EndNote. Note that not all databases will be available or compatible. In order to do this, find Online Search on the left hand side of your screen under your groups.

  • Choose a database to connect to from the list. Some are displayed on the left under Online Search. You can find more options by clicking more...
  • Enter search term(s) making sure to search in the proper field(s). Add additional terms with AND, OR, NOT.
  • Click Search.
  • The first 25 results will display. You can click 50, 100, or the total number to load more.
  • Select the references you want to add and click the plus sign.
  • The references you selected will be added to your all references folder.


3. Direct Export from a Database

EndNote allows you to search databases and to download citation data from your results. This is a lot faster than manual entry.

  • Begin to search databases using the UB Libraries Databases by Title page. Note: not all databases will create output in the same format; some databases do not provide export features.
  • Conduct a search in your database of choice.
  • You can typically make selections by saving items to a folder or clicking a checkbox, or send a batch or range of results to EndNote.
  • Look for the words download, export, or send to.
  • A file will be created, and you want to open that file using EndNote 20. Usually the file that is generated can be found in your downloads folder.
  • Any new references you add will appear in a temporary folder called Imported References, which appears on the left. All references will be viewable if you select All References.
  • You can now open any of these references and edit, annotate, and use just as any other reference.


4. Direct Export from UB Libraries Search

This is how to add references to your EndNote library when you run a search in the UB Libraries “everything” search.

  • Click into a record.
  • In the record, there is a menu of options illustrated by icons.
  • Choose “EndNote Desktop/Zotero” and an RIS file will download.
  • Click to open the RIS file and it will open your EndNote library and add the reference.
  • The same method can be used to add multiple records. Instead of clicking into a record, select the list of records. Under the three-dot menu, select “EndNote Desktop/Zotero” and an RIS file will download. Open it, and the list of references will be added to your EndNote library.

5. Importing PDFs

If you have a PDF file or folder of PDF files, you can import them into your library. When the PDF has a digital object identifier, it will generate a reference and bring that PDF into your library. When it does not have a DOI (often the case with older scanned articles), it will only bring the PDF into your library.

  • Go to File and then hover over Import.
  • Choose File or Folder.
  • Click Choose... to locate that file or folder.
  • Make sure the Import Option is PDF.
  • Then click Import.


6. Importing from Another Reference Manager

If you currently use another Reference Manager, such as Zotero or Mendeley, and want to switch to EndNote, there are ways to export your references from Zotero or Mendeley and import into EndNote. Follow the below steps, depending on which Reference Manager you currently use.


Importing from Zotero 
For more information, please view the Support webpage from Clarivate (who owns EndNote) by clicking here.

  • In Zotero:

    • To save your Zotero library for importing into EndNote, click the "File" menu and choose "Export Library." Choose RIS as the file type and pick a filename.

    • Save somewhere you can locate easily, such as your desktop.

    • Close Zotero.

  • In EndNote:

    • Open EndNote and open your existing library or create a new library.

    • Click "File" and then "Import."

    • Click the "Choose File" button and select the file you just exported from Zotero. Set Import Option to "Reference Manager (RIS)" and click Import.

NOTE: This imports the citation information only. It does not import PDFs. Please see the Clarivate Support webpage by clicking here to view steps to import the PDFs from Zotero to EndNote in a separate series of steps.

Importing references from Zotero to EndNote

Importing from Mendeley Desktop (please note: these steps cannot be used with Mendeley Reference Manager or Mendeley Cite). 

For more information, please view the Support webpage from Clarivate (who owns EndNote) by clicking here.

  • In Mendeley:

    • Select the records you wish to export. You can click Edit > Select All if you want your entire database.

    • Click on the File menu > Export 

    • Change Save As Type option to "RIS - Research Information Systems" 

    • Pick a name and location for the file and Save. You will end up with a file titled "My Collection.ris."

  • In EndNote: 

    • Open EndNote and open your existing EndNote Library or create a new library. 

    • Click on the File menu > Import File. 

    • Click Choose and browse to the "My Collection.ris" file you downloaded and click Open.

    • Change the Import option to Reference Manager (RIS). 

    • Click Import. This will import your Mendeley records into this new EndNote library.

NOTE: This imports the citation information only. It does not import PDFs.

7. Converting Plain Text Citations

You can use the Citation Finder website to convert plain text citations. The steps are outlined below.

  • Enter a list of citations, with each one on a new line.
  • Choose a citation format, in this case, RIS.
  • Search for matches.
  • Review the matched citations. Check each result and select the correct match for each item. You can edit the citation text and search again if a good match wasn't found. If no correct match can be found, leave the item with no matches selected.
  • Download all selected citations.
  • When you open the file, it should open in your most recently used EndNote library.