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EndNote: Using EndNote With Word

All your EndNote questions answered

The EndNote tab in Word


When you install EndNote, a tab will be created in Microsoft Word that allows Word and EndNote to interact. This tab can also be created in some other word processing software like Pages for Mac, or OpenOffice (sometimes it's a toolbar). Whilst those other word processors are not covered here, the functionality should be similar, so what follows should still be useful in some way.

If you don't see the tab option, have a look at our troubleshooting page for ways to install it. This is what it looks like in Windows (it is very similar on a Mac):

EndNote 20 toolbar

We'll go through the most important aspects of the tab below.



The referencing style that is going to be applied to your document is listed in the Styles area in the middle of the toolbar

Style window

The list of styles available from the drop down should match your list of favourite styles in EndNote. It is easy to change styles by using the drop down menu and either choosing one of the other styles available, or choosing Select Another Style to find more options. This works even if your document already has inserted EndNote references in it - they will be automatically changed to the new style.

Insert Citation


The Insert Citation option on the left of the toolbar allows you to add references into Word. The Insert Citation icon has two parts: an upper part (with an image of a magnifying glass) and a lower part (with the words Insert Citation).

Insert citation button

Clicking on the upper (magnifying glass) part brings up a search window that allows you to search your EndNote library to find a reference. These can then be selected and inserted to wherever your cursor is in your document.

Search for references

Clicking on the lower (Insert Citation) part shows a drop down menu which allows you to place a reference you've previously selected in your EndNote library straight into the Word document using Insert Selected Citation(s). You can select multiple references in your library by holding down the Control key (Command key on a Mac) while you select them.

Insert Selected Citation

When instant formatting is On (see the Instant Formatting section below), inserted references will be grey when you click on them, and so will entries in the reference list. This indicates that there are hidden field codes behind the visible text. You cannot edit this grey text - if you try, your document will eventually revert back and cancel your edits. To edit (or remove) your in-text references, see the Edit & Manage Citation(s) section below. To edit a reference in your reference list, return to your EndNote library and edit it there. Then return to Word and click on the Update Citations and Bibliography option in the tab to implement your changes.

Edit & Manage Citations


Edit and manage citations

Edit & Manage Citations allows you to add text such as page numbers to your in-text citations, change the way they display in your writing, and if necessary to remove citations from your document.

If you select an in-text citation in your document and choose Edit & Manage Citations, the following window appears:

Edit and Manage Citations 1

The top half of the window shows all the in-text citations in your document, in order. The name of the EndNote library where the citations are located should appear next to each citation. You may notice instead, next to some citations, the location "Traveling Library". This is covered lower down on this pagem under the Travelling LIbrary heading.

The Edit Reference drop down to the right of each one has a number of options, including Remove which you should use if you want to remove an in-text citation (choose Remove and then OK at the bottom of the window).

Edit and Manage CItations 2

The bottom half of the window allows you to change the look of an in-text citation that has been selected in the top half. You can add a prefix, such as (see also Smith, 2020) or some page numbers (Smith, 2020, p. 57), or both, by typing text into the Prefix and/ or numbers into the Pages boxes. Note that when you type text into the Prefix box you must put a space at the end of your text. Just type numbers into the Pages box, eg 57, or 57-58. You don't need to type p or pp.

You can use the Formatting drop down menu as follows:

  • Default displays the whole citation within parentheses: (Smith, 2020)
  • Display as: Author (Year) puts the author(s) outside and in front of the parentheses: Smith (2020)
  • Exclude Author hides the author: (2020). You would use this option if you had already typed the author's name before inserting the citation.

After selecting your formatting, and adding in any prefix, suffix or page numbers, click on OK at the bottom of the window.

Instant Formatting


To the right of the styles area is a drop down called Instant Formatting

Instant formatting on

When Instant Formatting is set to On, any reference that is inserted will be automatically formatted into your chosen style. When Instant Formatting is set to Off, references inserted into Word will appear in unformatted style, enclosed in curly braces with a hash plus the record number after the year of publication.
Unformatted reference
You'll normally want formatting set to On because instant formatting is very convenient. An exception to this would be if your Word document is very large and contains a large number of references. In this case you may find that your Word document lags, in which case turning off the instant formatting will improve the performance of the software.

When Instant Formatting is set to Off, your references will be inserted in unformatted style, and no reference list entry will be created. Don't panic when this happens, you can restore your unformatted references to their formatted state, and add them to the reference list, by pressing the Update Citations and Bibliography button.

Update Citations and Bibliography


Tip: you can add page numbers to an unformatted citation by typing @ plus the page numbers directly after the record number of the unformatted citation. For example, {Algahtani, 2020 #82@26} or {Algahtani, 2020 #82@26-27}. When they are formatted, these will become (for example in APA 7th style) (Algahtani, 2020, p. 26) and (Algahtani, 2020, pp. 26-27).

Changing the Layout of your Reference List


Normally, EndNote will format your reference list using the same font, font size and line spacing as the rest of your document. However, if you wish, you can change any of these so that they are different from the rest of your document.

Click on the small arrow icon in the bottom right of the Bibliography section of the EndNote tab in Word:

The Configure Bibliography window will appear. Click on the Layout tab:

You can now change the font and font size of the reference list, add in a title if you have not already typed one in your document, change the indenting of lines in the list, adjust the line spacing (including spacing between the lines of each reference), or adjust the spacing after each reference (but not the spacing between the lines of each reference).

Traveling Library


Sometimes you will have citations in your document that were inserted from an EndNote library that is different to the one currently open, or which were inserted some time ago and have since been deleted from your library. These will appear in the Edit & Manage Citations window as belonging to a Traveling Library.

Travelling Library

This is normally fine - the Word document has stored all the referencing information about the citation in the field codes which are hidden behind the formatted text, from when it was originally inserted. Problems only arise when you unformat your document (see Merging Chapters of a Thesis, below). When you unformat a document, any stored information in the field codes about these traveling library citations is lost, so that when you try to reformat the document you will get error messages like the one below:

Error message

Below the red text, you will often see some suggested references: EndNote is trying to find possible matches for this traveling library reference in your library.

To replace traveling library references with references from your EndNote library:

  • Select a traveling library reference in your Edit & Manage Citations window, and click on the drop down menu on its right. Select Update from My Library. This will produce the red error text seen above. Check to see if one of the suggested references is the one you need - if so, select it and then click on the Insert button at the bottom of the window. This will replace the traveling library reference with the reference from your library. If none of the suggestions match what you need, or if there are no suggestions, click on the Cancel button at the bottom of the window.
  • Repeat this for all the traveling library references in the document, one by one. If you had to press Cancel at some point, there will still be traveling library references in your document.
  • In this case, click on the Export to EndNote option to the right of the EndNote tab (see below), and then on Export Traveling Library. Choose to export to your open library (in the example below this is My EndNote Library but yours may have a different name). This will add all the remaining traveling library references into your library.

  • The references added to the library will have different record numbers to the ones in your document, which means that when you reformat your document you will still get the red error message for each of the old traveling library references. However, the error window will now have the correct reference as a suggestion in every case, and you should select this and Insert it.

Making a Plain Text Version of your Document


As has been noted above, you cannot directly edit in-text references that have been inserted using EndNote, or their reference list entries. This text will have grey shading if you click on it.

Normally, to edit an in-text citation, you would use the Edit & Manage Citations option. To edit an entry in your reference list, you would edit that reference in your EndNote library and then use Update Citations and Bibliography in the EndNote tab in Word.

However, sometimes there is a problem that cannot be fixed in this way and you need to be able to edit in Word directly. You can do this by creating a Plain Text copy of your document by selecting Convert Citations and Bibliography > Convert to Plain Text. This creates a copy of your document but without any EndNote field codes in it. In the copy, all the previously grey text with hidden field codes behind it is now just normal Word text and can be edited like any other text. The original document, containing all the field codes, still exists and is unaffected by this.

Plain text copies are also used if you are submitting an article for publication in an academic journal: some journals require you to submit a copy of your article without any EndNote field codes, and this is done by submitting the plain text copy.

It is best to create the plain text copy as the last thing you do before submitting the document for publication. In particular, make sure you have inserted all the EndNote citations that need to be in the document before creating the plain text copy.

A problem arises if, after creating your plain text copy, you need to insert more EndNote citations. This cannot be done with the plain text copy. You must return to your saved original which contains the field codes, insert any new citations using EndNote, and then create a new plain text copy. The first plain text copy should be discarded, and any editing that was done on it would need to be repeated on the second plain text copy.

Merging Chapters in a Thesis


If you are writing a thesis or some other long document, you will often have one Word file for each chapter. And, if you have inserted citations using EndNote, each of these chapters will have its own reference list at the end.

If you want to merge these chapters together so that there is a comprehensive reference list at the end of the merged document, and without reference lists after each chapter, you will need to follow these steps:

  • Save a backup copy of each of the formatted chapters, including any appendices that have EndNote references in them.
  • Then, unformat each of the chapters & appendices using Convert Citations and Bibliography > Convert to Unformatted Citations. This changes all the in-text citations to unformatted style (see Instant Formatting, above) and removes all the reference lists.
  • Create a new, blank Word document.
  • In order from the start of the thesis to the last chapter, copy and paste each of the unformatted chapters into this new document, one after the other. You can add page or section breaks between the chapters as you add them, if you wish. At this stage, don't paste any sections such as appendices that you want to appear after the reference list.
  • Once all the unformatted chapters are merged together into one document, select Update Citations and Bibliography. This will format all the in-text citations and create a reference list at the end of your document.

At this point, you might see some of the error windows mentioned in the Traveling Library section of this guide, above. Follow the processes outlined in that section to sort out these error windows.

  • Now, paste any remaining unformatted sections, like appendices, which you want to appear after the reference list. You would normally have a page or section break in your document between the reference list and the following sections.
  • Again, select Update Citations and Bibliography, and deal with any further error windows as before.
  • You are now finished, and can save your merged document. You may still need to do some word processing on it, for example adding title, abstract and table of contents.