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EndNote: Help

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.

Help - My EndNote Library is damaged or corrupted!

Sometimes, through no fault of the user, an EndNote library is damaged or corrupted. When you try to open your library you may get this message:

You may see "Service Error: No Property", and be unable to insert citations in a Word document. This also means the library is damaged.

Do not panic! There are things you can do to recover/repair your EndNote library but, if it's all too much to cope with, please contact us and we'll calmly work through these steps with you. We know your library is precious and we'll certainly help you.

For a printable version (PDF) of the recovery instructions below, click here.

Simple fix: try this first

1. Open EndNote (Start > All Programs > EndNote > EndNote Program) but do not attempt to open a library

2. Click Tools > Recover Library. You will see this message:

3. Click OK. Navigate to your damaged library, select it and click Open.

4. Choose a name and a destination for your saved library (or accept the defaults) and click Save.

5. If the recovery process works, you will see a message advising the number of references recovered into the new library. You can then rename this EndNote library and its associated .Data folder (remember: their names must match). To avoid future confusion, you should also tidy up by deleting the original, damaged library as well as its associated .Data folder.

6. However, if the message advises that zero references were recovered into the new library:

this means the recovery process did not work and you need to move to the next method.

Didn't work? Now try this

This recovery method initially seems a little complicated but, if you take your time to work through it, there is a very good chance it will recover your damaged library. It involves creating files on your desktop which you should later transfer to the drive and folder in which you normally keep your EndNote library.

Let’s suppose your damaged library is: My Perfect EndNote Library.enl

1. On your desktop, create a new folder: right click in empty space on the desktop and choose New Folder.

2. Navigate to the folder containing your damaged library and its .Data folder called My Perfect EndNote Library.Data

3. Copy the .Data folder and paste it into the new folder on your desktop.

4. In the new folder, create a new text file: right click in empty space of the folder and choose New > Text Document. It will be called New Text Document.txt

5. Rename this text file to the name of the damaged EndNote library and change the extension to .enl. It should now be My Perfect EndNote Library.enl (Note: to unhide file extensions, see below).

6. Open EndNote and use the Recover Library process (as explained in the box above) on My Perfect Library.enl in the folder on your desktop. This will create My Perfect EndNote Library Saved.enl

7. If you can see that the recovery process has worked (i.e. if the EndNote library in the new folder on your desktop now contains the correct number of references), you can now tidy up your files. Go back to the folder where you originally had a damaged EndNote library and delete all versions of the library, including any failed recovery attempts, and their associated .Data folders.

8. In the new folder on your desktop, rename the recovered EndNote library and its .Data folder (remember: their names must match) and copy them over into the drive/folder in which you normally store your EndNote library.

Unhiding file extensions

If your Windows preferences are set so that file extensions are not showing, you will need to do this step before renaming in Step 5.

1. In the folder where you created the new text document, go to the Tools menu on top. If you don't see the Tools menu, tap the Alt key on your keyboard once.

2. Click Tools > Folder Options > View.

3. Uncheck the box labelled, "Hide extensions for known file types" and click OK.


If you are out of luck and the recovery process did not work (your My Perfect EndNote Library Saved.enl contains zero references), try the next method in the box below.

One more thing to try

1. Open the folder where the damaged library is located:
    e.g. H:\My Documents\My Perfect EndNote Library.enl

2. In the same folder you will see a Data folder:
    e.g. H:\My Documents\My Perfect EndNote Library.Data
    This is where all the data (including PDF files) are stored.

3. Select the .Data folder, right click and select Cut.

4. Navigate to the Desktop, right click and select Paste.

5. Open EndNote, go to File > Open > Open Library and navigate to the damaged library.

6. Select the library and click Open. You will see the following message:


7. Click OK. Your damaged library will open, and all the references will be there (without PDF attachments).

8. Go to File > Close Library, then File > Exit to close EndNote.

9. Navigate to the Desktop where you pasted the original .Data folder.

10. Open the .Data folder on the Desktop and you will find a PDF folder.

11. Select the PDF folder, right click and select Copy.

12. Navigate to the folder where the damaged library is located again. You will see that since you opened the library in EndNote, EndNote has created a new .Data folder.

13. Open the .Data folder – you will see two existing folders (rdb and Trash).

14. Right click and select Paste to add the PDF folder you copied from the Desktop to the .Data folder.

15. Open EndNote, go to File > Open > Open Library and navigate to the damaged library:
     e.g. H:\My Documents\My Perfect EndNote Library.enl

16. You should find that the library is no longer damaged and opens successfully, including PDF attachments.

17. To tidy up you could now delete the .Data folder you pasted to the Desktop in step 4.

If All Else Fails

If none of the recovery methods described above works for you, you may wish to contact the Thomson Reuters Technical Support team via this page.

Once you have logged an issue with Technical Support they may suggest you email your damaged EndNote library and its .Data folder to them. Using Windows Explorer, highlight both the files, right-click and use Send To>Compressed Zipped Folders. This will zip your ENL file and DATA folder into a single file to send via email.

AUT support

Please see the other sections of this guide for help with using EndNote.  If you experience problems or need more assistance, other support available at AUT includes:

Liaison Librarians

Contact your liaison librarian. You may book a one-on-one consultation session with your librarian.

Library Help Desks

Limited help can be provided at the Library Help Desks at each campus.


The Library offer two EndNote workshops to staff and students:

  • EndNote Essentials
  • EndNote Extra

Book Workshops online.

From the software provider

On the EndNote website you will find: 

With the EndNote program installed on your computer, you will be able to: 

  • Browse or search the comprehensive Help
    - click Help on the EndNote menu bar
  • Download the Getting Started Guide – this is a PDF file installed with the program. You will need Acrobat Reader to read it. Click on Start >> Programs >> EndNote >> Getting Started Guide

EndNote Training's YouTube channel provides numerous short videos explaining specific aspects of using EndNote, including instructions for using EndNote with other word processors such as OpenOffice and Apple Pages.