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EndNote: Attaching Files (e.g. PDFs) to an EndNote Library

Guide to using EndNote, software that helps organise your reference sources. Also allows you to create in text citations and a list of references as you type in Microsoft Word.

FAQ Contents

Click the links below to move to other topics in the FAQs.

 APA 6th Style

• Does EndNote do it all?
• What is APA 6th - AUT X7?
• Wrong style in reference list
• Preview in EndNote looks wrong
• URL for an e-journal article
• APA 6th help

 Attaching Files

• Exporting articles - automatic?
• Attach a PDF
• Other files
• Open a file
• Import a PDF
• DATA folder
• Find Full Text

 Author Names

• Common mistakes
• Corporate author
• Author initials or first names
• Multi-part names
• Omit author from in text citation 
• Corporate author abbreviation

 Chicago/Turabian Style

• What is it?
• Is Chicago/Turabian different from Chicago?
• 'Notes and Bibliography' version
• Get it right in Word
• 'Author Date' version
• Help with footnotes

 EndNote Tools in Word

• EndNote tab/toolbar disappeared
• EndNote Web tab displaying instead of EndNote X6 tab
• EndNote tab/toolbar not installed
• What is CWYW?

 Exporting from Databases

• How to do it
• Errors in exported references
• Does the article come too?
• Mac problem
• Import filters

 Formatting Word Documents

• Wrong style in reference list
• Plain text version
• Thesis chapters
• Computer code showing
• Standalone reference list

 In Text Citations

• Curly brackets
• Delete a citation
• Add page number(s)
• In text citations shifted
• Omit author from in text citation
• Author initials or first names
• Cite a secondary source
• Select Matching Reference error

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When I export a reference from a database to my EndNote library, does the article come too?

No, the article will not be automatically exported from the database to your EndNote library. The export (or download) process sends just the bibliographic data to your EndNote library and this usually includes:
        • author(s)
        • publication date
        • title
        • publication details (e.g. journal title, volume, issue, pagination or publisher and location)
        • doi

Other data that may also be exported:
        • keywords
        • abstract
        • URL (but beware: this URL is often not stable and is unlikely to be useful in  your reference)

If you also want the full text article to be added to your EndNote library, please see the FAQs below.

Can I add the PDF of an article to a record in my EndNote library?

I have exported references from a database search (or from Library Search or Google Scholar) into my EndNote library and now I would like to attach the actual articles.

The most successful method is to deal with this while you still have the database search results showing in your browser. An alternative method using the Find Full Text command is described one of the other FAQs on this page.

  • From the results of a database search, download the PDFs of relevant articles and save them on your desktop
  • Export the references from the database to your EndNote library if you have not already done so
  • To attach the corresponding PDF to each reference in EndNote, highlight the reference and click References > File Attachments > Attach File
  • Navigate to the desktop and highlight the PDF
  • Click Open and the PDF will be attached to the appropriate EndNote record. This attachment will be indicated by a paperclip symbol beside the reference in the EndNote library display

For more details about attaching files, consult Section 9 on pages 17-20 of our Using EndNote X6 guides:

Windows version
Mac version

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Can I add other types of files?

Yes, you can attach other types of files (e.g. an image file) using the above method.

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How can I open a file attached to an EndNote record?

In your EndNote library, click to highlight the reference, then right click File Attachments > Open File

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How do I import a PDF into an EndNote library?

I have already saved some articles as PDFs on my computer and I want to transfer these into my EndNote library without a lot of data entry

This method works if you are connected to the Internet and have a PDF that:

  • has been previously saved on your computer
  • has a DOI (digital object identifier)
  • is a publisher-generated PDF (e.g. an e-journal article)

Follow these steps:

  1. In your EndNote library click File > Import > File
  2. Click Choose and navigate to find the PDF you have saved
  3. Click to highlight the filename
  4. Click Open
  5. Select PDF as the Import Option and do not alter the Duplicates or Text Translation settings
  6. Click Import

This process should create a new record in your EndNote library containing the bibliographic data (author, title, etc) and with the PDF of the article as a file attachment.


  • Variation on this method – import a folder of PDFs to create separate records for each document
  • It is vital to check the record as some data may be missing and will need to be typed in
  • For a PDF that does not include a DOI, this method will only work partially. The PDF will be attached and its filename will be entered as the title. No other data will be transferred
  • You can also drag and drop a PDF into the tab pane to create a record in your library

For more details and screenshots of this process, consult Sections 7.1 and 7.2 on pages 12-13 of our Using EndNote X6 guides:

Windows version
Mac version

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Where are the attached files stored in EndNote?

Although the paperclip symbol seems to indicate that the attached files are saved in your EndNote library, they are in fact saved in a related DATA folder. This folder is automatically generated when you create your EndNote library and it will have the same name as your library filename but with the extension .DATA.

For an EndNote library called Training.enl the folder will be Training.DATA

When backing up your library, or if you move your library to a different computer, or if you want to share your library with someone, always remember to copy the .DATA folder along with the library. The best way to do this is to create a compressed library. Consult Section 12 of our Using EndNote X6 guides for instructions on this:

Windows version
Mac version

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What does the 'Find Full Text' command do?

The Find Full Text command searches for the full text articles corresponding to selected entries in an EndNote library. Any article found is then attached to the EndNote record.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. In your EndNote library, highlight the records for which you would like to find the full text articles. Remember to hold down the Ctrl key as you highlight your second and subsequent choice(s)
  2. This technique works best for journal articles with DOI numbers so be careful not to select the book and book section references and also try to avoid any articles you know do not have a DOI
  3. Click References > Find Full Text > Full Text or click this icon
  4. Read the copyright warning and click OK

Depending on how many references you have selected, the search for full text may take several minutes. The results will be displayed in the groups pane where you will be able to see how many articles have been found and attached. A paper clip symbol displayed in the EndNote library window indicates that a file has been attached to that record.

Where no full text document has been found, a URL may have been added to the record instead.

Sounds great? Yes, but the process is unpredictable and will not find every full text article available to you. In addition, it works better on campus than off campus. To improve the performance, consult Appendix D on page 41 of our Using EndNote X6 guides:

Windows version
Mac version

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