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Guides & Tutorial, Pao-yue Kong Library, The Polytechnic University of Hong Kong

Reference Management Tools

A Comprehensive Guide for EndNote, Mendeley and Zotero

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When dealing with many references in the process of research, establishing good practices can help you better manage your references. In return, this can improve your efficiency in using EndNote. Here are some tips to help you better manage your references.

Edit References

It is a good habit to check if the information of the imported references is correct and accurate. You can correct the information manually when necessary.

  1. Click on Preview to check if the information of the imported reference is correct.
  2. Double-click to open the reference record.
  3. Correct the information, if needed.
  4. Close and save the change(s).


Follow the steps below in case bulk change is needed:

  1. Click on Tools.
  2. Select Change/Move/Copy Fields...
  3. Specify which field to change.
  4. Make the bulk change with options provided.

Group References

Groups in EndNote can help you organize references by different subjects so that you can quickly locate the reference later on. One reference can be assigned to different groups. References added to or deleted from groups will not affect the master record of your library under “All References”.

  1. Click on Groups.
  2. Select Create Group.
  3. Name the group created. You can then use drag-and-drop to add references into the group(s).


You may also use "Smart Group" to automatically add references to a group based on assigned criteria. Note that references deleted from a Smart Group will also be deleted from "All References".

  1. Click on Groups.
  2. Select Create Smart Group.
  3. Name the smart group.
  4. Set criteria for the smart group.
  5. References that match the criteria will be automatically added into the smart group.

Attach PDF and Others

You can attach up to 45 files to a single reference, including PDF, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, JPEG, etc. You may follow the steps below: 

  1. Simply drag and drop the file(s) onto a reference, OR
  2. Click on the clip icon to attach file(s).
  3. You can view the PDF in a new window, or edit the PDF with highlight, underline or annotations.

By default, the PDF files attached in your reference library are saved in an independent folder under [reference library name].Data > PDF. Annotation, highlight, and other changes on the PDF files will also be saved there.

Sort References and Set Column Headers

You can sort references by clicking on the corresponding column header:

Tips: Sorting by "Title" helps you identify duplicate titles; sorting by "Author" helps you find works from the same author. 


You can drag the column header to change the sequence of fields to display: 


You can personalize the column header with the steps below:

  1. Right-click on the column header row.
  2. Select the column header you wish to add, e.g. Publisher. The maximum no. of headers to display is 10.
  3. Uncheck the existing header if you wish to remove it from the header row.

  

Add Labels and Research Notes

You can make use of "Label" and "Research Notes" fields to add tags and comments for the references. These two fields are usually empty in the imported references.

  1. Double-click on a reference to open the reference record.
  2. Scroll down until you see the Label and Research Notes fields.
  3. Add tags in the Label fields and personal comments in the Research Notes fields if needed.
    (We do not recommend you to use the Notes field as references imported from some databases may "occupy" this field.)
  4. Close the reference record to save the change(s).


The tag and research notes added can be searched within EndNote:

  1. Use the Quick Search box to search for references, OR
  2. Use the Search Panel to search within a field. Click on Show the Search Panel if you cannot find the Search Panel.
  3. Conduct a search on the Search Panel.

To show Label and Research Notes on the column header, please refer to Sort References and Set Column Headers.

Remove Duplicated References

To identify duplicated references, you can use the Find Duplicates function as shown below:

  1. Click on References.
  2. Select Find Duplicates.
  3. Fields with discrepancies will be highlighted.
  4. Decide which record to keep.
  5. If you have many duplicated references, and you wish to remove duplicates in one go (it is not important to you which reference will be removed), then click on Cancel to show all duplicated records.
  6. Finally, press the "Delete" button on your keyboard to remove all highlighted duplicates in one go.

This is particularly helpful when you are doing a systematic review, where you need to de-duplicate quite a number of references imported from different databases.


By default, EndNote detects duplication based on information in fields for Author, Year, Title and Reference Type. You can change the criteria with the steps below:

  1. Click on Edit.
  2. Select Preferences...
  3. Select Duplicates.
  4. Change the criteria if needed.

Tips: Unchecking the Author field can help you find more duplicates because you may have 2 identical articles with slightly different name format (full name vs. initials).

Backup

To avoid loss of your references, we recommend to backup your EndNote library using either one of the following options: