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EndNote 20 Guide

Managing your library

Managing your references

Searching references

You can quickly search your complete EndNote library for a reference:

  • Click on All References.
  • Type the author surname or keyword in the search box  located in the toolbar & press the Enter key.

For more options when searching, use the Search panel. To access this search panel:

  • Maximise your library window.
  • Select Advanced search  
  • Use the drop-down menu to choose the field you want to search (e.g. author, abstract, keyword etc.)
  • Choose PDF from the field menu to restrict your search to the attached PDF files; Any Field + PDF to search any field and all PDFs.
  • Use Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) to combine words and an asterisk (*) for truncation,e.g. pregnan* finds pregnancy, pregnant.
  • Tick Match Case only if searching for specific capitalisation of the words.
  • Tick Match Words only if searching for specific references containing exactly those words.
  • Use + to add a search line; - to delete a search line.
  • Click Search. The retrieved references will appear in a temporary Search Results group.

Sorting references

When you open your EndNote library you will see the different parts of each reference displayed under headings such as Author, Year, Title, Journal etc. Clicking on any of these headings enables you to order your references via this part either alphabetically or chronologically.

  • To reverse the order click the arrow head that appears in the heading that currently determines the order.

To make other changes to the EndNote display in the main library window:

  • Go to Edit > Preferences > Display Fields
  • Use the drop-down menus to change what is displayed in a column, then click OK.
  • To revert to the original settings, click Revert Panel > OK.

Deleting References

1. Highlight the reference you want to delete.

2. Go to References > Move References to Trash.

Marking references as read

You can mark your references as read by clicking on the grey dot which will un-bold the reference. To reverse simply click on the dot again.

If you prefer not to differentiate between read and unread references go to Edit > Preferences > Read / Unread, untick the 'Show unread references in bold text' box and click 'OK'. Once you're back in the main library screen, right-click on the heading bar above your references and untick Read/Unread Status to remove the column.

Rating references

You can assign your references a rating scale according to your own criteria. Highlight the reference and click in the Rating column to add the number of stars required.

You can search your library for all references of a certain rating. Go to the Search Panel, then select Rating from the dropdown menu. Choose the rating number of stars, then click Search.

Backing up your library

It is highly recommended that you make a back-up copy of your EndNote library to guard against damage/loss. This also enables you take your EndNote library with you to another location and to email part or all of your library to your colleagues.

Your library in EndNote comprises a .enl file and a .DATA folder which holds various files connected with the library. Both Save a Copy and saving your library as a compressed library includes the .DATA folder.

Use these 2 different methods for different purposes:

Save as a compressed library file to your USB for moving between computers or sharing your library:

  • Open your EndNote library.
  • Go to File > Compress Library (.enlx)...
  • dialogue box will appear.
  • Choose to Create the compressed library or Create & Email (launches your default email system with the compressed library file attached); With or Without File Attachments; including All References in Library or Selected Reference(s) or All References in Group/Group Set.
  • Click Next and save it to your USB.
  • Note: EndNote libraries are compatible across platforms - you can create your library on a MAC, save it as a compressed library on a USB then open it on a PC (and vice-versa).

To restore your compressed library file:

  • Open EndNote.
  • Find the stored file and double click on it.
  • The .enlx file extension (indicating a compressed library) will change to .enl (indicating that it is uncompressed).
  • You can now add references to your library from any computer.

Save a Copy of your library on a different drive or USB as a back-up at a specific point in time.

  • Open your EndNote library.
  • Go to File > Save a Copy.
  • Include the date in the file name and save it on a different drive / USB as a back-up copy.
  • If you then want to add to & work with this copy, you must subsequently save it as a compressed library - each time you Save a Copy a different copy appears (i.e. it doesn't overwrite the existing file).


EndNote allows to organise your references into Groups, so you will not need to create separate libraries for subsets of references. Groups appear on the left panel, and can be renamed or deleted. They can also further organised in Group Sets and moved between Group Sets.

The same reference can be added to several different groups, and references deleted from a group will always remain available in All References.

Custom groups

Custom Groups can be used to manually group references.

  • Select Groups > Create Group.
  • Enter a name for the group.
  • Click on All References to view the references in your library. Highlight references you wish to add to the Group (use the Ctrl key to select multiple references).
  • Select Groups > Add References to > Group name.

Group sets

Group Sets allow you to organise your numerous groups:

  • Select Groups > Create Group Set OR right click on My Groups > Create Group Set.
  • Enter a name for the Group Set.
  • To create new groups under the Group Set: right click on the Group Set, select Create Group and enter a name.
  • To add existing groups to the Group Set: left click on a group and drag to the Group Set.

Smart groups

Smart Groups will automatically add references to a group with specific criteria:

  • Select Groups > Create Smart Group.
  • A search box will appear. Enter a name in the Smart Group Name box.
  • Enter criteria for your search using the drop-down menus and text boxes.
  • Click Create.
  • A new Group will appear under Smart Groups in the left panel.
  • Every new reference added to your library will automatically be added to the Smart Group if it meets the criteria you set.