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EndNote: Getting Started

Notice: EndNote 20 Available

A new version of EndNote has been released by Clarivate: EndNote 20, and it is available to download for all staff and students.

If you are already an EndNote user, you can choose to upgrade or to stay with EndNote X9. There have been some major changes to EndNote's interface, and you might want to stick with a known version if you are in the middle of a major project. For some people, EndNote X9 will remain the best choice for 2021.

Most of the materials on this guide were created for EndNote X9, but you will still be able to use them if you have downloaded EndNote 20. There have been some changes (especially to the user interface), but for the most part the software works in the same way.

We will be updating this information to match the look of EndNote 20 over the course of semester 1, 2021.

What Is EndNote?

EndNote is a software program that allows you to manage references. It functions as a:

  • Database manager: EndNote stores, manages and searches within your own personal database of references
  • Citation formatter: it automatically formats in-text citations and bibliographies in your chosen reference style in Word documents
  • Bibliography maker: it builds lists of references you have cited in a paper, and automatically creates the bibliography in a number of different styles
  • Data importer: it enables the importing of references from databases into an EndNote library

EndNote also allows you to share references or reference libraries with other users, and to store and annotate PDF documents and other files with your references.

Some aspects of EndNote are tricky, but if you take the time to learn how to use it, EndNote can be a valuable tool to save time and help you build a library of material that you can use throughout your studies.

Read on to learn where to begin.

Getting Started

First, download EndNote. If you are using a university computer, it should already be installed.

Once you have EndNote installed, there are three steps:

For an overview of these steps, including troubleshooting tips and things to watch out for, download our EndNote X9 workbook PDF or view the workshop recording.

The rest of this guide can help you learn to use EndNote more confidently:

EndNote Online explains how to use the web version of EndNote to sync your library for use across multiple computers or to collaborate with other users in a shared library.

Term Lists & Journal Abbreviations explains how term lists are used in EndNote. Term lists help you maintain consistency in author names, and are useful to understand if you switch between referencing styles with different journal formatting requirements, e.g. APA & Vancouver.

Referencing Output Styles shows you how to download and install new referencing styles.

EndNote Help and Workshops & Online Tutorials bring together more resources to help you learn to use EndNote or troubleshoot your EndNote issues. Some of these resources rely on your having a basic understanding of EndNote, so if you haven't been to a library workshop or checked out our X9 workbook yet, take a look at those first.

Note: EndNote relies on the user to input all details fully and accurately, and to check that the output is correct. Refer to the Referencing guide for guidance on constructing references in APA style. You must always check the information entered into your EndNote library, and check the references it produces.

Endnote Software Downloads

How Can I Access EndNote?

On campus, EndNote is available on all ECU student computers and available for installation on ECU staff computers.

As ECU staff and students, you are also entitled to install EndNote on your home computer. 

You can download the latest version of EndNote from ECU IT Services software download service. Desktop EndNote is available for Windows PCs and Mac. You will need your ECU Login to download the software.

ECU IT Services installation instructions:


If you have an older version of EndNote X9, update to version X9.1. This fixes a bug related to page numbers in citations.

If you are using EndNote on Mac using Catalina, X9.3 is compatible. Please back up your library before you update your OS to avoid losing access to your library.

If you wish, you can also set up an online EndNote account and use the synchronise option in EndNote to automatically synchronise both online and desktop EndNote libraries. See the EndNote Online page in this guide for further information.

Saving and Backing Up Your EndNote Library

It is vitally important that you back up your EndNote library. Multiple copies should be made and these copies should be kept in different places. e.g USB, external hard drive.


Creating a Backup

The backup form of your EndNote library is called a compressed library. If your EndNote library is saved as a compressed library, then both of the files EndNote needs to load your library (the references in your EndNote library, plus data files such as groups and attached documents) will be saved. To create a compressed backup, go to File > Compressed Library. Follow the prompts to save your library, and choose a meaningful name (e.g. EndNote Backup 28 September).


Before You Upgrade

If you upgrade to a new version of EndNote:

  • Make a copy/backup of your EndNote library, including any customised style files and import filters, before updating your EndNote version. You will need to locate and save your styles and filters separately from your compressed library. Your EndNote data will be overwritten if it is only stored in the Program Files folder.
  • Uninstall the older version of EndNote before installing the new version.


General Safety Notes
  • EndNote libraries are made up of two parts: the .enl file and the .data folder. These two parts must be kept together, and both are needed for the library to work correctly.

  • EndNote libraries should be kept on your computer's hard drive. Storing and editing libraries on a network drive can lead to corruption and performance issues.

  • EndNote libraries should never be stored in cloud-syncing folders such as DropBox, OneDrive, Box, SugarSync, etc. Automatically syncing folders will corrupt EndNote libraries over time. Use EndNote's own sync function and EndNote Online if you will be working across multiple computers.

  • References in EndNote libraries can be synchronized between desktop and laptop computers, the online library, and an iPad using EndNote Sync.

  • Complete EndNote libraries can be shared with other EndNote users through EndNote Sync and Library Sharing. See details on our EndNote Online page.

  • Source: EndNote safety tips from Clarivate.