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EndNote: a beginner's guide

An introduction to EndNote Desktop for new users. Learn how to create a Library, add and modify references, use EndNote with Microsoft Word, add groups, add full-text PDFs, and back-up your EndNote Desktop library. Also includes EndNote Online.


EndNote x9 and EndNote 20.0 incompatibility with MacOS Big Sur

Big Sur is the 17th and latest major release for the Mac operating system (MacOS).

EndNote Desktop x9 (version 19) and EndNote Desktop version 20.0 are incompatible with Big Sur. This means, for example, that MS Word cannot be used with these more recent EndNote Desktop versions, e.g. you cannot insert EndNote references into a MS Word document, nor can you enable the 'EndNote' tab and the Cite While You Write (CWYW) function in MS Word.

Please see EndNote: Big Sur Compatibility.


  • EndNote version 20.1 has compatibility with Big Sur. Please update EndNote Desktop 20.0 to 20.1.
  • EndNote X9 was not designed for Big Sur. It's suggested that you upgrade to EndNote Desktop 20.1 if using Big Sur.
  • On a Mac: EndNote 20 > Check for Updates from the top toolbar.
  • In Windows: Help > Check for Updates from the top toolbar. Whilst this is not a Windows issue, it's always important to have the latest version of EndNote Desktop (for Mac and Windows) since it often fixes bugs within the software and enhances functionality.

Last reviewed: October 2021.

What is EndNote Desktop?

EndNote Desktop is a software program that:

  • Creates, stores and manages your references/citations.
  • Saves your selected references/citations from online resources (e.g. LibrarySearch, library databases and Google Scholar) to export them into your EndNote Desktop library.
  • Inserts references/citations from your EndNote Desktop library into your Microsoft Word document, and automatically creates a bibliography, so you do not have to manually do so yourself. Bibliographies are created in your chosen referencing style (e.g. APA 7th ed., RMIT Harvard, IEEE, Vancouver, AGLC4, Chicago, etc.).

Video: What's New in EndNote 20?

Video produced and kindly shared by EndNote Training.


EndNote can display references in your preferred referencing style  (e.g. APA 7th ed., RMIT Harvard, IEEE, Vancouver, AGLC4, Chicago, etc.).

Before you use EndNote:

You need to know which referencing style your School, supervisor or lecturer wants you to use, and then become familiar with that style by using the resources below.

Learn how to reference: