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EndNote referencing software: ADD References

Software that helps automate your referencing. In this guide find out about EndNote, download EndNote (UWA staff and students only) and complete our EndNote Learning Path

Adding references to your EndNote Library

There are a number of different ways to add references to your EndNote Desktop Library.  

The most efficient and effective is to direct export references from an existing library catalogue (OneSearch) or from a database (e.g. Scopus, ProQuest or Web of Science etc.).  These exported records can then be imported into your EndNote Library.   You can choose to export and then import individual or multiple references.

It is also possible to import references from a search engine such as Google Scholar or from a collection of journal article PDFs you may have saved into a folder on your desktop - but only if the PDFs have been given a DOI (Digital Object Identifier).  

Finally, you can also add references directly within EndNote either by manually typing in a reference (for those tricky formats that you cannot find a citation to export) or by searching databases from within EndNote using connection files.

See each of the FAQ’s in this section for advice on these different methods for adding references to your EndNote Desktop Library.  

Tip:  Only add references that directly relate to your learning or research interests to keep your Library relevant and manageable. 


Getting ready to add references

Your EndNote Library can become your personalised record of important resources and research findings that are of relevance to your study interests. 

Use it throughout your studies to collect and organise all of the articles, books, websites, diagrams, videos, podcasts – everything you have consulted to develop your thinking and write up your thoughts. 

Tip: Don’t add everything you find into your library, just those things that are relevant to your learning.


Let’s get started by creating your first EndNote Library

Tip: Do not save active libraries to local sync folders - such as OneDrive - this will likely result in the corruption of your EndNote Library.  Always save your library to a local folder, not a synced folder.  See the tab SHARE & Backup for more information.


ACTIVITY: Creating an EndNote library 

  1. Search for EndNote in your Start menu and click on the app.  (For Mac users go to Applications)
  2. Navigate to FILE-> NEW and check that the SAVE AS TYPE is set to ENDNOTE LIBRARY (*.enl). 
  3. Name the .enl file and navigate to where you would like to save it (eg Documents) and click SAVE.
  4. You will see the EndNote 20 empty library ready for you to add references.

Importing References to EndNote

General Principles

Most modern library catalogues or database platforms will offer some ways in which you can export a list of selected references into a file type that can then be directly imported into an EndNote Library.   

The most common export file type used within EndNote is called a .RIS (Reference Manager) file. Sometimes the export button given in a database will say RIS, sometimes it refers to the reference software package itself.  OneSearch and several other database platforms use the .RIS file for their direct export options.


Example export options within ProQuest Database (2021)

Other sources might use a different file type - such as a .CIW file used by Web of Science, or a .ENW used by Google Scholar, but they essentially work in the same way. 

If your EndNote Library is open, these exported citation files will generally automatically import into EndNote.  If for some reason they do not automatically import you can locate the file in your ‘Downloads’ folder and initiate the import into your EndNote Library by double-clicking on it. 

If the file does not automatically import into your EndNote Library you can choose to use the Import file from within EndNote option.  See the Troubleshoot import tab for details. 

If for some reason the exported file does not automatically import - or import on opening - into your EndNote Library there is this alternative method you can use from within the EndNote software. 

  1. Select the top level FILE menu and then IMPORT and "File".  
  2. Select "Reference Manager (RIS)" as the import option then use the CHOOSE button to import the .RIS file
  3. You will find the exported file in your downloads folder
  4. The references within the .RIS file will go into the "Imported References" folder.  


You can create a manual entry for any references that are unusual or difficult to find an existing citation that you can export from a database. 

To manually add a new reference to an open library, follow the steps below:
  • From the References menu, select New Reference (Command or Ctrl+N). This opens an empty Reference window
  • Select a reference type from the Reference Type list at the top of the window.
  • Enter bibliographic data into each of the fields in the reference. When you are finished, close the reference to save it or click on File > Save and add it to the library.


Correction Tips: 

Author Field


  • For multiple authors, add a line space between each author, 
  • For corporate and organizational authors add a comma at the end .... otherwise the references will display like this for the World Health Organization

Organization, W. H. (2021). Response to Covid19. JAMA, 342(2), 45. 

  • Placing a comma at the end World Health Organisation, fixes this to 

World Health Organization. (2021). Response to Covid19. JAMA, 342(2), 45. 




How to add references from OneSearch

OneSearch is the UWA Library Catalogue.  It includes all of the resources we subscribe to or purchase to support your studies so it’s always a good place to start your search for information. 

This section will take you through how you import individual or multiple references from the OneSearch catalogue search screen or from your OneSearch "My Favourites" area.  

You can export an individual item from OneSearch to your Endnote Desktop library.  

This video will show you the main steps: 


Notes and advice: 

  • Always begin by making sure the Endnote Library you want to import the reference into is open. 
  • The OneSearch file name will be "Primo RIS Export".  You will find it in your downloads file.
  • Double clicking on it should open it within EndNote if the import does not start automatically.
  • References you have just imported will appear together in a temporary "imported references' folder. 

Note: Remember to check all references, as they often require editing to conform with your chosen referencing style.

It's also possible to select and send multiple references from OneSearch to your EndNote Library. 

  1. Begin by selecting individual items from your search results or from your "SAVED ITEMS" area in your personal "My Favourites" area.
  2. Once items are selected go to the ellipses above your search results or next to "My Favourites". 
  3. You will find the ENDNOTE/MENDELEY (RIS) as one of your download options.
  4. Select the Download button to create a Primo_RIS_Export file that will this time include the multiple references selected.
  5. Follow the instructions as per the individual export/import of a OneSearch item.  Remember to check the quality of your references. 

Note:  Your "My Favourites" area is available to you when you log into OneSearch using your PHEME credentials. It is possible to 'tag' items in you have saved and then choose to export a tagged selection, see Using OneSearch for more information.  



Records from OneSearch should be checked in particular to ensure: 

  • Authors and editors have been imported into the correct fields and possible duplication
  • Corporate authors have the comma added at the end of the organisation name, eg Australian Bureau of Statistics, otherwise it will display like this - Statistics, A. B. o. 
  • Book and ebook chapters have been identified as such and book chapter details added
  • Edition numbers have been included
  • Correct formatting of retrieval statements such as DOI or website

Although exporting references from a search catalogue such as OneSearch will help you to partially construct the references you are ultimately responsible for making sure they are correct.  Always check them against the style and ensure all the required elements are included, updating the fields in EndNote as required to make corrections. 

How to add references from databases

Importing your references from a database is one of the easiest ways to add references to your EndNote Library.  We have provided here examples from two of the biggest databases - Web of Science and Scopus but most database platforms will provide a way you can direct export.

It is preferable to import your references from the database that provided the full-text version. This is because for some referencing styles you may need to include the name of the source database in your citation. This is generally when the information is owned by the database provider of if a journal article does not have a DOI (Digital Object Identifier)

See our Referencing Style guides for details. 

This database specialises in providing citation data so you can search the network of researchers interested in specific topics. 

As Web of Science is another Clarivate product it has been developed to work seamlessly with EndNote.  View their “Direct Export from Web of Science” video [1m27s] for a demonstration of how to select references to send to an export file and have these import to your EndNote Library (note there is no audio in the 'InAction' video series).


  • Access Web of Science by searching for it in OneSearch or from our Databases link. 
  • The export file type is a .CIW type rather than .RIS used for OneSearch 
  • You have a choice of how much of the item record information you want to import into your EndNote Library
  • We recommend against importing of all results from a broad search into your EndNote Library as demonstrated here.

Tip: Use the 'tick' selection boxes or set up personal folders within a database to be selective in which records you export.




Scopus is a citation search database that helps you to uncover the network of researchers interested in specific topics, in addition to more traditional search functions.   

In this example of the direct export of references from Scopus we are using the set up of 'personal folder' to which reference records have previously been saved.  Most databases allow you to set up a personal folder area you can use as a first filter of possible relevant references. 



You may find that all of the references you have imported are missing the same detail - such as the name of the database or the retrieval date if required by your style.   Or it could be you need to move a field's content to another field in order to correct the output of a citation.

You can do any of these actions and any other re-arranging or additions to your EndNote record fields using the handy 'Change/Move/Copy' function.

This short In action (47s) video will show you how.  


Other methods for importing references

Although importing from catalogues and databases are some of the most efficient ways to populate your EndNote Library you may at times need to use these other methods.   

The manual method is important for when you can't find an existing citation to export - this may be for instance for websites, audio-visual materials, or for rare, very old, or unusual references. 

View the Clarivate In action: “EndNote 20 (Windows) create a new reference” video [1m20s] for a demonstration (note there is no audio).

Here are some things to note and tips: 

  • Remember to select the correct format type to ensure the entry fields fit the format.  
  • Only type details into the fields that will be required to construct a correct reference
  • Check you the reference is correct by previewing the style output in the summary tab and comparing this against the closest format type in the Style guides (see our Styles tab).
  • These actions are very similar in the Mac environment, see this PDF link for guidance. 



If you have been busily saving relevant journal article PDF's to a folder on your computer, you may be able to get EndNote to import references from these. 

In order to successfully do so the articles need to include a DOI number - that is a Digital Object Identifier.  These only started to be applied to published articles around 2000 so this method of import will only work for more recently published articles. 

Here are some things to note and tips: 

  • The PDF automatically attaches to the created item record and is available to view and annotate'
  • The citations that could not be created include the PDF but no author, title or publisher details. 
  • You can view this Clarivate FAQ on this topic for more instruction. 
  • It is also possible to set up a PDF auto-import folder for any future PDFs you download. 


It's also possible to directly search an external database from within EndNote and directly import references found. 

View this segment of the introductory EndNote in 7 mins (01:33 to 2:52) to learn how to use this method:

General tips and advice: 

  • This is a great method for a single known reference but we would not recommend it for general search strategy. 
  • EndNote uses "connection files" related to specific databases; these provide very basic keyword searching only. 
  • Searching within a host database platform will provide you with much more control over your search strategy and better results. 




Follow these steps to import a single item from Google Scholar. It is not possible to import multiple items.

The quality of Google Scholar citations is usually quite poor and so needs to be checked and corrected in your library.

1. Go to Google Scholar
2. Conduct your search.
3. Click on the IMPORT INTO ENDNOTE link for the reference you would like to save to your EndNote library.
4. A temporary EndNote Import File will appear in your downloads folder. Double click on this file which will then open in your EndNote library into Imported References. If asked if you wish to Open or Save, click on OPEN.


Setting up the Import into EndNote option
It may be necessary to set up Google Scholar’s preferences to set EndNote as the preferred Bibliography manager to see the Import Into EndNote option. 

  1. Click on the burger menutop left of the screen, then SETTINGS COGundefined
  2. Under BIBLIOGRAPHY MANAGER, select Show links to import citations into and choose ENDNOTE: undefined



Quality check
Some EndNote Online and Google Scholar citation imports can be very poor quality, for example, the volume number for a journal article may be missing or the journal-title may have incorrect capitalisation or be abbreviated or not all authors included in the reference.

It's important to view the "imported references" from these sources, in particular, to check for missing elements. 

One option you can use to try to improve the quality of references imported from a poor source is to use the EndNote "FIND REFERENCE UPDATES".   View this video for the main steps. 

Further advice and tips: 

  • Highlight the reference or references to be checked in EndNote
  • Database reference sources such as PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus provide better quality and more complete references. 






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