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EndNote desktop guide: Creating a library

The basics

In this section we will look at the basics of setting up and using an EndNote library. EndNote is very customisable, and we will only be looking at a few features here. As you use it more, you will learn to customise it to your liking.

Creating a library

Open EndNote and use

  • File > New > [select a location to save the library]
Clarivate advise saving the library to your C:\ drive, but not a networked drive, flash drive or cloud storage. However the University has reviewed the options and suggest you keep it on your H:\ drive (networked drive) when at work. You should NOT keep it on cloud storage or a flash drive. For more information see our tips and trick guidance. Remember to backup your library wherever you store it.
Note that two items are created, a .enl file and a .data folder. You need to keep these two together in the same folder, with the same name, for your library to function correctly. They don't literally have to sit next to each other but they do need to be in the same folder (but don't put the .enl file in the .data folder (a common mistake :-)))


Screenshort of folder containing .enl file and .data folder


You can create as many libraries as you like, but it is best to keep it limited
EndNote supports an unlimited library size
Associate only one library with the document you are writing
To open an EndNote library, use File > Open, then click on the .enl file
EndNote auto saves as you use it or will ask you to save the latest changes

Backing up a library

A lot of work goes into creating your EndNote library and backing it up is essential. It is advisable to back it up periodically, using a 'compressed library' (this is easy to do). A compressed library consists of a single file, called an .enlx file. This is a 'snapshot' in time and not something that is automatically updated, so you need to remember to do this periodically, especially after you have done significant work on the library.

To back up using a 'compressed library,' in EndNote select

File > Compress library

and choose the relevant options for you, e.g. whether to include PDFs in the back up. 

Remember to select an appropriate place to store the library, e.g. your H:\ drive, Cloud storage, Flash storage. Do not back-up to your local hard drive.

Layout options

There are various ways to customise the layout of your EndNote libraries. For the basic layout,

To resize panes, left click and hold on any border and move as required 

Brag border to resize panes


You can close the right side preview window by clicking on the cross.

Close preview window by clicking on cross


You can make it visible again by clicking just inside of the right scroll bar of the application.

Open preview window by clicking on right side border of application window

Changing the visible columns

In EndNote, go to Edit > Preferences and the select Display Fields. You will then be presented with a dialog box in which you can select the fields (columns) that you prefer to view. Record number can be useful as every entry in your library has a unique record number.  Display fields screenshot

Re-ordering columns

To re-order your references by e.g. Title, simply click on the top of the column

Reorder content by clicking on the top of the column

Local library / Temporary online search

When you view a library in EndNote, remember to think about what is considered your 'local library', which is in effect your permanent library saved to e.g., the H:\ drive, and the results in your online search. You might find sometimes that EndNote documentation refers to your local library, which is why it is worth highlighting this. While it might sometimes look like they are part of your library, the results in the Online search section are in fact only temporary and will be deleted when you close you library. To retain any references for your local library, you need to add them using the Add the selected online records button.