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PolyU Library

Reference Management Tools for Academic Writing

A Comprehensive Guide for EndNote, Mendeley and Zotero

Getting Started

Assign a meaningful name for your reference library

A meaningful library name will help you easily locate your reference library especially when you need to create different libraries for different projects in the future. Try to include creation date, project name, or subject code in the library name. Avoid using the default "My EndNote Library.enl" to name your reference library.


Use one reference library ONLY for each of your research projects

Managing multiple reference libraries may cause confusion and require extra effort when doing back-up. You may also experience difficulties when inserting citations from different reference libraries to your Word document.


Use groups to organize your references in EndNote

Groups in EndNote can help you organize references by different subjects, topics, or even chapters so that you can quickly locate the references later on.

Adding References

Add references to your reference library as soon as you come across them

Add the relevant references you come across immediately into EndNote. This habit will help reduce the need to try locating the references again when you are writing your paper.


Double-check the reference after importing immediately

Sometimes the information imported into EndNote may be incorrect or incomplete. Hence we recommend previewing the imported references right after you add it to your reference library. If needed, you should also immediately correct the information.

Ensure consistency in the authors names

Because different sources may treat author names differently, it is a good habit to keep consistent name expression for the same author among your references. This can help avoid EndNote mistakenly treating these records being from different authors as a result affecting the citations showing on your paper.

Writing Papers

Insert citations immediately while you are writing

Many times, students forget to cite the source and unintentionally commit plagiarism especially after paraphrasing or re-writing. Hence, it is a good practice to insert citations right after you quoted or paraphrased the information in your paper.


DO NOT insert citations from more than one reference library to each Word document

Each reference in your reference library is assigned with a unique record number. Inserting references from different reference libraries will create chaos for the record number and may cause error for the inserted citations.

Other Tips

Check for compatibility before upgrading your OS and MS Word

Whenever there is a major upgrade in Windows or Mac's operating systems, it takes several weeks or even months for EndNote to have an update. Until then, EndNote will not be compatible with the new version of the OS or MS Word. Hence, it is always prudent to check the compatibility with EndNote before upgrading your system and software.


Back-up your reference library regularly

Regular backing up of your reference library can prevent data loss and other unexpected risks. We also suggest that you back-up after every significant change in your reference library.

Creative Commons License

Except where otherwise noted, the content of this guide is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.