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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.

Backing-up your EndNote Desktop library

Note: Save and backup your EndNote Desktop library regularly to ensure you do not lose your work. You do this by creating a compressed EndNote Desktop library. A compressed EndNote library incorporates your regular EndNote library file (.enl) and its associated Data folder (.data) into a single file. The compressed EndNote library has an .enlx extension, and is smaller in size than the regular EndNote file (.enl) and its associated Data folder (.data).


To create a compressed EndNote Desktop library:

1. Open your EndNote Desktop library.

2. Go to File > Compress/ed Library (.enlx). Leave the options as they are: Create, With File Attachments, All References in Library.

3. Press Next, specify where you would like to save the file (should be the same location as your .enl file and .data folder), and press Save.

4. You have now created a new compressed EndNote Library (.enlx).


How do you use your compressed EndNote Desktop library (.enlx)?

If your regular EndNote library file (.enl) ever becomes corrupt (e.g. not opening, references are missing, not working properly with MS Word or Pages):

1. Ensure your corrupt .enl file is closed. Open your compressed EndNote library (.enlx).

2. This will then ask you to create a new EndNote library file (.enl) , which will contain all the references and attachments (e.g. PDFs) from your compressed file (.enlx) .

3. When asked to save this new .enl file, leave the filename as is (do NOT change it), and save the file in the SAME location as your corrupt .enl file. Do NOT create another instance of the .enl file. Instead, REPLACE the corrupt .enl file with the new .enl file. 


Important tips:

  • You should create a new compressed EndNote Desktop library at the end of each usage session. For example, if you work on your EndNote library each day, create a new compressed EndNote Desktop library when you have finished working at the end of the day. This will ensure you will always have a current compressed EndNote Desktop library.


  • Each time you create a new compressed EndNote Desktop library, REPLACE the older compressed .enlx file with the newly compressed .enlx file. You should have only ONE compressed EndNote Desktop library (.enlx) to avoid confusion as to which is the latest one.


  • Back-up your three files (.enl, .data, .enlx) together in the same place: on the local hard drive (C:) of your own personal computer or laptop, on the desktop or within your student/staff H: drive of your RMIT computer or laptop, and you can even send it to your e-mail address as an attachment. This will ensure you will still have access to a functional EndNote Desktop library if your original library becomes corrupt or damaged.
Note: There are advantages and disadvantages of saving your EndNote Desktop library in the various places mentioned above. For information of what these are, please see the 'Creating, saving and opening a new EndNote Desktop library' box within this guide's Getting started: downloads, installation and referencing styles page. It is up to you, as the EndNote user, to discern which saving location is best for you. RMIT University cannot decide for you.


  • Do NOT save or back-up your EndNote Desktop library to an online cloud environment, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive or iCloud. This can eventually corrupt or damage your library.


  • Do NOT use EndNote Online as a form of back-up for your EndNote Desktop library. If your EndNote Desktop library is corrupt or damaged, this will cause your back-up library in EndNote Online to be, too.


  • EndNote Online, however, is great for other purposes. It is a web-based cloud tool that requires no software installation and which can be accessed from anywhere with internet access. When you sync both your libraries within EndNote Desktop and EndNote Online, all references - including their groups and attachments - in both libraries are merged. After the sync completes, you will have exactly the same libraries in both EndNote Online and EndNote Desktop. This enables you to access your EndNote library from anywhere. You will not be limited to the computer you normally use to access your EndNote library. Syncing should be done regularly to ensure that both libraries are always identical and current. Please see EndNote Online > EndNote Sync for more information on syncing.

Email your large EndNote Desktop library using FileSender

Use FileSender to send or receive large files, above the file-size limits set for RMIT email. FileSender is a secure tool that allows you to quickly send files of any size. FileSender is perfect for sending a large EndNote library.

  1. Go to FileSender.
  2. Press the Login to FileSender button.
  3. Choose RMIT University from the list of institutions.
  4. You should be logged in automatically, but if not, log in with your usual RMIT login.

More information: