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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.

Accessing and downloading EndNote Desktop and related files

Downloading and installing EndNote Desktop

EndNote Desktop is already installed on all RMIT student computers (Windows and Mac), and is available for staff optional self-installation via the Software Center on all RMIT staff Windows computers. EndNote Desktop is also available on myDesktop.

If staff or students are using their own personal device, or staff are using an RMIT staff Mac computer, please download and install EndNote Desktop from the Library's EndNote Desktop page.

If you are a Masters by Research or PhD student, you can install EndNote Desktop yourself on your RMIT-loaned laptop if you have admin rights. If you do not have these admin rights, please contact RMIT's ITS Service and Support Centre and ask them to install for you.

Help with downloading or installing EndNote Desktop is available from RMIT's ITS Service and Support Centre.


Downloading and installing RMIT Harvard referencing style

If you use RMIT Harvard, download the 'RMIT Harvard' reference style from the Library's EndNote Desktop page (scroll down to Reference Styles sub-heading). Please note that you must download and install BOTH the output style file (ENS file) and the XML file for the RMIT Harvard EndNote style to work properly. Clear step-by-step instructions on how to do so are provided on that page.

You will need to download and install the RMIT Harvard reference style on both your own personal computer and on the RMIT computer you are using.


Downloading and installing RMIT Connection File

The RMIT Connection File is used if you want to search in LibrarySearch directly from EndNote. This method is limited as it does not allow you to further narrow your search results using filters/limiters, nor can you access the abstract of each search result to assess their relevancy. It is therefore recommended you search directly from LibrarySearch instead, then import the references you want into your EndNote library. For how to add references from LibrarySearch to your EndNote library, please see: Populating your EndNote library: adding references.


For RMIT computers

The RMIT Connection File is already available within the EndNote Desktop software installed on all RMIT student computers on campus (Windows and Macs), within myDesktop, and within Software Center on RMIT staff Windows computers. You do not need to separately download and install it.


For personal computers

If you have installed EndNote Desktop on your own personal computer or an RMIT staff Mac computer, you will need to download the RMIT Connection File from the Library's EndNote Desktop page. You only need to do this if you need to use the RMIT Connection File. 

To install your downloaded connection file, save it to its corresponding sub-folder:

  • On Windows, save the file to C:\Program Files (x86)\EndNote\Connections
  • On Mac, save the file to Applications > EndNote > Connections


Check for EndNote Desktop updates on your personal device

  • On Windows: go to EndNote Desktop, then Help > Check for Updates within the top toolbar
  • On Mac: go to EndNote Desktop, then EndNote 21 > Check for Updates within the top toolbar
  • Check a list of available updates.

Creating, saving and opening a new EndNote Desktop library

1. Open the EndNote Desktop program.

2. Create a new EndNote Desktop library (File > New) and save it to your preferred location, either:

  • Option (1) -- save to the local hard drive (C:) of your own personal computer or laptop, or
  • Option (2) -- save to the desktop or within your student/staff H: drive of your RMIT computer or laptop.
IMPORTANT: Although Option (2) allows you to access your EndNote Desktop library from any RMIT computer or laptop, you are saving your EndNote Desktop library on the RMIT networked drive with this option. This can cause your EndNote Desktop library to become corrupt or damaged over time. For more information, please see Alfasoft's article on 'Where to store your Endnote library, or not to store it' and Clarivate's article on 'EndNote: Few reasons why the library may get damaged frequently'. To mitigate this risk, you can consider choosing Option (1). The disadvantage of Option (1), however, is that you will always be limited to using that particular computer or laptop that you created your EndNote Desktop library on. It is up to you, as the EndNote user, to discern which option is best for you. RMIT University cannot decide for you. Regardless what option you choose, it is important to keep a regular backup of your EndNote Desktop library -- please see this guide's Backing-up your EndNote Library page.


3. This will create an .enl file and a .data folder -- both MUST be KEPT TOGETHER in the SAME location for your EndNote Library to work properly. If you move the .enl file to a different location, you MUST move the .data folder with it.

4. To open your EndNote Desktop library, click on the .enl file only. The .data folder is only used by the EndNote Desktop program.

IMPORTANT: You should only ever have ONE EndNote library throughout your studies. Creating multiple EndNote libraries will get confusing and complicate things. Please see More features > Creating groups. Groups are useful for organising the references you use in different courses/subjects, for organising the references you use in different chapters of your thesis/dissertation, or for organising the references you use for your research topic into sub-topics.

Selecting your referencing style in your EndNote Desktop library

In order for EndNote to correctly display your references in both your EndNote Desktop library and your Microsoft Word document, you will need to choose the referencing style you would like to use within your EndNote library and Word document. The style selected should be the same in both.

IMPORTANT: If you use RMIT Harvard, ensure that you FIRST download and install the RMIT Harvard output style ENS file and the XML file from the Library's EndNote Desktop page (scroll down to Reference Styles). Both files are needed for the RMIT Harvard EndNote style to work properly. Once you have done this, proceed to the steps below.


To select your referencing style in EndNote Desktop:

  1. Go to Tools > Output Styles and click on your style from the list. If your style is not within the list (e.g. RMIT_Harvard_EndNote), proceed to step 2 and 3.
  2. Go to Tools > Output Styles > Open Style Manager. Tick the style you want from the EndNote Styles pop-up window, e.g. RMIT_Harvard_EndNote. Close the pop-up window.

  1. Go back to Tools > Output Styles and click on the style you ticked in step 2, e.g. RMIT_Harvard_EndNote.


Note: Other styles not in the list can also be downloaded via Tools > Output styles > Open Style Manager > Get More on the Web. You can also learn how to choose your referencing style in Microsoft Word within the EndNote and MS Word page.