Skip to main content

EndNote: Building Your Library

Library Basics


  • When opening EndNote for the first time, you will need to create a new library. (File --> New)
  • You can rename it if you want, and then save it to your hard drive. (Just save it somewhere you want it to stay, as you won't be able to move it later.)
  • Don't save active EndNote libraries to a server or cloud-based storage, as they could corrupt over time. 
  • You can have as many libraries as you'd like, but if you plan to use EndNote online, you can only sync one desktop library to your online account.
  • You can customize the way your library looks. Under Edit --> Preferences, you can change the font of your library under Display Fonts, and what fields are in the library (author, title, rating, etc.) under Display Fields.


Adding References

There are 4 ways to add references to your EndNote library:


  • Select New Reference under the References tab, choose Reference Type (i.e. article, book) and type in the relevant info 

Search within EndNote

  • You can search some databases from directly within EndNote, and then add either everything you find or just selected references into your library. This is best for simple searches, like when you have a PubMed ID or the title of a book. 
  • Searching PittCat in EndNote 

Export from databases

  • Many databases allow you to export an EndNote or RIS file into EndNote
  • For example, in PubMed, go to Send to and select Citation Manager

Import a text file

  • You can also import a text file, by selecting File -> Import
  • Select the appropriate import option (ex. EndNote import for EndNote files)

Organizing References

You can organize your EndNote library using groups. To create a group, go to Groups --> Create Group. Name it, and then drag and drop references into it.

There are other types of groups:

Smart Group

  • EndNote file references for you. Go to Groups --> Create Smart Group
  • Select the parameters for your group - what do you want in it? Articles by a certain author or on a certain subject? You can use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) if needed.
  • EndNote will file all the references currently in your library that meet the criteria, as well as any future references you add

Combination Group

  • Create a group made from other groups. Go to Groups --> Create From Groups
  • Use Boolean operators to decide which articles from other groups should be in your new group

You can also create a Group Set, and file groups themselves by dragging and dropping

image showing groups and group sets in an EndNote library

Adding PDFs

When you add references, you're just getting the citation information. However, you can also attach PDFs, which can then be annotated inside EndNote.


  • Highlight the reference and click the paperclip in the right hand pane. You will be prompted to browse for the file. 

Have EndNote do the work

  • Select the reference(s) you're looking for, and then select References --> Find Full Text. EndNote will search for all freely available full text and attach PDFs it finds. You can ask EndNote to also search the databases Pitt subscribes to, which will bring back way more PDFs. The instructions are located here: Full Text Set Up 
  • Note: EndNote won't find everything, but it will save you a lot of work

Have a PDF (or folder of PDFs...) and just want to quickly import it into EndNote as a reference?

  • File --> Import, then select file or folder
  • Browse for your file/folder
  • Select PDF as your import option
  • Double check your reference - if it doesn't have a DOI, it will not import properly
  • PDF of the instructions

Annotating PDFs

You can easily annotate PDFs in EndNote. Double click any reference that has an attached PDF, and then click on the PDF. From there, underline, highlight, or add notes.

example of an annotated article, with highlighted and underlined passages

How to Videos

Click to view videos












The Health Sciences Library System supports the Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.

© 1996 - 2020 Health Sciences Library System, University of Pittsburgh. All rights reserved.
Contact the Webmaster

University of Pittsburgh Libraries