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Biology Literature Searching: Citation Software

How to search for journal literature efficiently and effectively.

What is EndNote?

EndNote is bibliographic management software that allows you to store and organize your references in a searchable database called an EndNote library. It also permits you to import and reformat references from online databases, automatically enter citations and build reference lists in Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, and Pages (Macintosh).  You can also format references according to hundreds of different bibliographic citation styles such as APA, MLA, Turabian, and journal-specific formats.

The EndNote desktop application can hold an unlimited number of references. We recommend using the desktop application if you are heavily engaged in research. Please note: Your EndNote working library should never be stored on any cloud service, networked drive, external hard drive or flash drive to avoid eventual corruption of your library.  For more information, see section 7.1 "How Not to Share an EndNote Library" of The Little EndNote How-To Book.

A University of Lethbridge site license allows all current students, faculty, and staff to download and install the EndNote desktop application.  The current version of EndNote in use at the University of Lethbridge is EndNote X9.  For a comparison of features in the current and previous two versions, click here.

EndNote FAQ

If you’re on a Windows computer and seeing a product key prompt, this likely means you missed a step in the process of extracting the downloaded installation file. This is easy to do, as Windows opens multiple dialogue boxes during the extraction process and the important one that actually extracts the file often gets covered by the others.

On the Install EndNote page in this guide, take a close look at the yellow highlighted note for PC users, then uninstall the trial version before trying again to install the full version of the desktop application. If you still encounter problems, please email with details of what is happening on your computer.

If you installed EndNote in November 2019 or earlier and have not updated the software since, you will likely be missing the APA 7th output style, as it only became available in early December 2019. Follow these steps tin install the APA 7th output style:

  • go to this page and click the Download Style button at the bottom of the page
  • save the file (APA 7th.ens) to your desktop
  • double-click APA 7th.ens - the file should open in EndNote
  • go to File | Save As and remove the word "Copy" from the style name
  • click OK

Have a look at this article to learn about some limitations of the APA 7th output style and some changes in formatting citations that were introduced in APA 7th.

Libraries created with previous versions of EndNote are compatible with EndNote X9. Depending on the version used to create your existing library, when you open your library using EndNote X9, you may or may not, be notified that the library will be converted to EndNote X9 format.

CAUTION: Once you convert your library to EndNote X9, do not edit it with versions older than Endnote X2, as doing may corrupt your library.  Although it is likely that your library will be recovered the next time you open it with EndNote X9, the possibility exists that it will not be recoverable.  As with any software application, it's generally best to work consistently with one version of EndNote - preferably the most current version.

No, you should never store your EndNote working library on any cloud service, networked drive, external hard drive or flash drive.  The reason is that an EndNote library comprises a set of files that must always be updated by EndNote in a strict sequence to avoid corruption of the library.  In cloud-based and networked server environments and on external hard drives and flash drives, the strict sequence of file updating required by EndNote libraries cannot always be ensured. 

Essentially EndNote is designed to allow you to build and maintain a working EndNote library that is stored on the internal hard drive of the computer you use to run the desktop application. For more information, see section 7.1 "How Not to Share an EndNote Library" of The Little EndNote How-To Book.

You should be able to use your browser of choice to export saved citations into EndNote, but some browsers like Chrome and Safari may require you to do so in two steps:

  1. first download the citations, and then
  2. double-click the downloaded file in order to import them into EndNote (you should open the program beforehand).

Other browsers such as Firefox, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge give the option of opening the saved citations directly in EndNote instead of saving first and then importing.  The first time you try to export citations directly into EndNote, you may need to choose "Open" or "Open with" and selectResearchSoft Direct Export Helper from the list of applications.  If you don't see ResearchSoft Direct Export Helper in the applications list, browse to your applications folder and choose EndNote X9.  <

In Library EndNote workshops we recommend using Firefox since it handles citation exporting equally well on Windows and Mac computers.

If you see strange data in {curly brackets} instead of in-text citations in your Word document, this likely means Word is displaying EndNote field codes instead of properly formatted citations.  To fix this, try the following:

Quick Fix:

  • Windows: Press ALT - F9 to toggle between field code and formatted citation displays
  • Mac: Press Option - F9 to toggle between field code and formatted citation displays

If Quick Fix does not work:

  • Windows: Go to File | Options | Advanced | Show document content
    • Uncheck "Show field codes instead of their values" and click OK
  • Mac: Go to the Word menu | Preferences | View
    • Uncheck "Field codes instead of values" and click OK (if available)

For more information see this article on the Clarivate Analytics Support website.

To import citations from Library subscription databases and freely available online resources such as Google Scholar and PubMed:

  • save your selected citation(s) to your desktop and note the file name
  • sign in to your EndNote online account at endnote online import references
    • go to Collect | Import References
    • select the File containing the citation(s)
    • select the appropriate Import Option (e.g., for Google Scholar, choose "EndNote Import"; for PubMed, choose "PubMed (NLM)"; if you do not see an import option for your specific database or search platform, try "RefMan RIS")
    • select the Group into which the new citation(s) should be imported; choose [Unfiled] if you have not created a group or do not wish to file the citation(s) into any group
    • click Import
  • in My References you should see your imported citation(s) in the Group you selected or in [Unfiled]

If you're running macOS High Sierra or macOS Mojave, you may encounter a known issue involving misalignment between where you place your cursor and what is actually highlighted when you use EndNote's built-in PDF annotation tools. You can read about the problem and a suggested work-around in this Clarivate Analytics article.

Each unique Author and Journal is tracked automatically in your EndNote library.  In Cite-While-You-Write (CWYW) or when previewing citations in your EndNote library you may see discrepancies in the cited format for a given Author or Journal.  To fix these, in EndNote:

  • go to Tools | Open Term Lists, then choose either Authors Term List or Journals Term List
  • search for the problem term which may be listed in several variant forms
    • for Authors, identify the term you wish to use and delete all variants
    • for Journals, identify the term you wish to use, delete all variants, and record up to 3 variants in the fields labeled Abbreviation 1, etc.

In the example below, "Journal of Management Development" and "The Journal of Management Development" occur in different references in an EndNote library but these two titles refer to the same journal from Emerald Publishing. 


Yes! The desktop application remains the only full-featured version of EndNote, but most of EndNote's essential functions are available for the iPad.

  • Go to Apple's EndNote for iPad page to find out about iOS compatibility and other requirements and to download the free app
  • After you've installed the app and are ready to start using EndNote, download the EndNote for iPad Getting Started Guide for an overview of available functions and step-by-step guidance on how to do things like import citations, attach PDFs, and use Cite-While-You-Write.
  • Check out the EndNote Training channel on YouTube (for example, EndNote for iPad and EndNote iPad Sync and Settings)

You may find this software review useful:

Demetres, M. (2017). EndNote for iPad (version 2.4). Journal of the Medical Library Association, 105(3), 305-306.

To ensure compatibility with macOS Catalina released in October 2019, EndNote for the macOS was updated to EndNote X9.3.1. In January 2020, an EndNote X9.3.1 update for Windows was released to ensure EndNote libraries continue to be interoperable on Mac and Windows platforms.

Normally, the best way to install EndNote updates is to do so within the EndNote application (Windows: Help | Check for Updates... Mac: EndNote X9 | Check for Updates...).  However, if you are a Windows user and are running X9.2, Check for Updates does not work, but this has been corrected in the X9.3.1 update.

Clarivate has released instructions on how to install the X9.3.1 update manually. Keep in mind the following:

  • During updating, when you see a dialogue box stating your pre-existing EndNote library needs to be converted to a new format, click OK to allow the conversion, which will add "-Converted" to the name of your (new) library.
  • If your unconverted library was Synced, after opening your converted library in X9.3.1, click the Sync icon and click OK to accept the warning message about syncing a library that is different than the last library you synced.

Yes. If you have created a Change Case list in your desktop EndNote application, you can make a copy to place on another computer or share with another EndNote user. See this article for instructions on how to do this.

If the work you are citing has more than one author, place each name on a separate line. If you enter multiple names on a single line, EndNote will treat all of the text on a single line in the Author field as one name.

Note that although you can enter personal author names in direct ("Firstname Lastname") or indirect ("Lastname, Firstname") order, it's best to always use indirect order, as this is the convention used by most indexing tools (e.g., Library databases, PubMed, Google Scholar) when you export citation data from them into your EndNote library.


EndNote for Windows

EndNote for Mac

Finding EndNote on the Library Homepage

Starting at the homepage, navigate to the Guides tab.

Under I'm looking for, find Citation Software.

Click on Citation Software, and then click on EndNote.