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EndNote - Basic (Online) & Desktop

This guide contains information on the citation management tool EndNote. Content references both the Basic (Online/Free) version and the Desktop (Paid) version.

Cite While You Write: Insert References into Word Documents

The basic steps required to cite a reference and generate a bibliography with Microsoft Word are summarized below.

To Cite While You Write:

  1. Start Microsoft Word and open the paper you are writing.
  2. When you are ready to cite a source, position the cursor in the text where you would like to put the citation.
  3. Go to the EndNote tab in Word, and then select Insert Citation:  A "Find & Insert My References" dialog appears.
  4. In the text box at the top, enter identifying text for EndNote to locate the appropriate reference. This could be an author’s last name, a year, a keyword, or any other combination of terms found in the reference.
  5. Click Find and EndNote compares the identifying text to your EndNote references and then lists the matching reference(s).
  6. Identify and  highlight the appropriate reference(s).
  7. Use the Insert button triangle to display a menu, and select from:
    • Insert: To insert the citation and format it as defined by the currently selected output style
    • Insert & Display as: Author (Year)
    • Insert & Exclude Author
    • Insert & Exclude Year
    • Insert in Bibliography Only
    • NOTE: You can click Insert (not the triangle) to quickly select the default Insert command.
  8. Go back to step 3 to insert the next citation, and continue citing references this way.
    • NOTE: When Instant Formatting is turned on, each time you insert a citation it is formatted and a bibliography is updated at the end of your document. When you are done inserting citations, your document is done! Instant Formatting is turned on by default.

If your citations are not automatically formatted, and a bibliography is not updated each time you insert a citation:

  1. Go to the EndNote menu, and then select Update Citations and Bibliography.
  2. You can change the output style in the Style box on the EndNote menu.  If your style does not appear on the drop down list, click on Select Another Style... to see a full list of available styles. 
    1. NOTE:  Even when Instant Formatting is turned on, you may want to select Format Bibliography in order to change the style or layout of your citations and bibliography.
    2. NOTE: The dialog lists the styles that are currently selected as your "favorites" in the Style Manager. If you need to select a style that is not in the list, click Browse to locate it.
  3. Click OK. EndNote scans your paper and, using the selected style, formats any temporary citations, reformats formatted citations, and appends a bibliography to the end of your paper.

ALERT: EndNote Cite While You Write and new Word version

Occasionally EndNote Cite While You Write Plugin updates do not keep up with new versions of Word. EndNote Online can be used to format your papers until a patch is available. You can also use this technique if you are using Office 365.  All that is required is that the document be saved in the .rtf (Rich Text Format).

Find More Citation Styles

If you do not see your particular citation style in the list of styles preloaded into EndNote, search the EndNote website for additional styles.  Instructions for downloading new styles are included in the link:


Always proofread the bibliography!  No citation software is perfect.

Add a Footnote

There's one extra step if you're inserting a reference into a footnote.

Click the References tab in Word ribbon.  Then click the Footnote button/link.

With your cursor still in the footnote, click the EndNote toolbar in Word and then the Insert Citation button as usual.  (Wherever your cursor is in your document -- the body or the footnote -- is where the citation will appear in the document.)

Traveling Library

There may be occasions where you want to copy all of the references used in a Microsoft Word document to an EndNote library. Perhaps you received only the formatted Word document from a colleague, and would like to create EndNote references to use later. Or, you may have a large EndNote library, but want to create a smaller EndNote library with only the subset of references used in your paper.

Note: The Traveling Library does not contain Notes, Abstracts, Figures, or Captions.

To export references from a Word document to an EndNote library:

  1. Open the document in Word.
  2. From the Tools menu, go to the EndNote X7 submenu, and then select Export Traveling Library.
  3. On the "Export Traveling Library" dialog, select either:
    1. An existing EndNote library:
      1. Select a library from the drop-down list of available libraries, or click Browse to locate a library.
    2. A new EndNote library:
      1. You will be prompted to name and save the new library.
    3. Note: We recommend that you export to a new EndNote library, so you can review the records before adding them to an existing library.

There is an alternate way to copy references from your Word document to an EndNote library. Open both your Word document and the EndNote library. Then, in EndNote, go to the Tools menu, then the Cite While You Write submenu, and select Import Traveling Library.

Note: When you use the Export/Import Traveling Library commands, the exported references are renumbered and do not retain their original reference numbers.