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EndNote: Journal abbreviations

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.

Medical Journal Titles

If you have an abbreviated journal title and need to know the full journal title (or vice versa), search the National Library of Medicine's:

• NLM Journals Catalog 

This covers the journals indexed in the MEDLINE database.

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Other Journal Titles

If you have an abbreviated journal title and need to know the full journal title (or vice versa), try these tools:

• Genamics JournalSeek
• Journal of Economic Literature  
• Mathematical Reviews  
• Oxford Art Online 

There is no single standard list of abbreviations for all published journals. When submitting an article for publication in a journal that uses a referencing style requiring abbreviated journal titles, check the publisher’s “information for authors” to find out more about approved abbreviations.

Web of Science journal abbreviation list – use this to find an abbreviation to use in a Cited Reference Search. These do not necessarily match the abbreviations used by other large databases such as MEDLINE.

Additional resources:

• The List of Title Word Abbreviations - title words of serials processed by ISSN network and their abbreviations
• Journal Abbreviation Resources on the Web  
• All That JAS 
• Appendix A: Abbreviations for Commonly Used English Words in Journal Titles - an NLM guide

For more help with journal title abbreviations, contact your Liaison Librarian.

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Background

Journal title abbreviations can pose problems for EndNote users, especially those using medical journals. These problems may seem daunting at first but, with careful preparation and a little extra know-how, things can go smoothly. 

Two likely scenarios:

  1. You have exported (downloaded) references from the MEDLINE via PubMed database into your EndNote library. This database uses abbreviated journal titles but you need the full journal titles for the APA 6th referencing style.

  2. You have entered references in your EndNote library with the full journal titles (either by exporting from a database other than PubMed or by typing them in yourself) but you need to use a referencing style such as Vancouver that requires abbreviated journal titles.

Both of these scenarios can be managed in EndNote by means of the Journals Term List. This allows you to store the full journal titles as well as up to three different abbreviations for each one and provides a means of “translating” between full and abbreviated and vice versa.

For a PDF version of the information on this page, click here.

Medical Journals Term List

EndNote software includes several subject-based journals term lists that can be imported into an EndNote library. The one needed most often is the medical list which covers journals indexed in MEDLINE. This is supplied with EndNote X6 but must be imported into your EndNote library.

First step:
If you have already entered references in your EndNote library before importing the medical journals term list then it is likely that there will already be entries in your EndNote library’s journals term list. It is highly recommended that you delete all these terms before importing the medical list otherwise you may have duplicate entries in your list and EndNote may not be able to select the correct title or abbreviation.

Delete existing terms:

  1. Open your EndNote library
  2. Click Tools > Open Term Lists > Journals Term List
  3. The Term List dialog box opens. Highlight the first journal title. Select all the titles by holding down the Shift key and scrolling to the end of the list then clicking the last title
  4. Click Delete Term > Close

Import the medical journals term list into your EndNote library:

  1. Open your EndNote library
  2. Click Tools > Define Term Lists
  3. Highlight Journals and click Import List
  4. Locate and open the EndNote Terms Lists folder: C:\\Program Files\EndNote X6\Terms Lists 
  5. Highlight Medical and click Open
  6. When the list has been imported you will see this message:
       13134 terms inserted into the ‘Journals’ terms list

Click OK and click Close on the Term Lists dialog box

Note: this list is stored in your EndNote library, i.e. it will be specific to a particular EndNote library rather than to the program. If you have more than one EndNote library, you need to set up the journals term list for each one.

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Disable Automatic Updating of Journals Term List

By default, EndNote automatically updates the journals term list with any new journal titles in references you add to your EndNote library, either manually or exported from databases. This can cause problems if those titles are abbreviated and if EndNote cannot find a match in the term list.

To avoid these problems, you should disable this automatic updating if you regularly export references from PubMed (i.e. with abbreviated journal titles) to your EndNote library:

  1. Click Edit > Preferences > Term Lists
  2. Uncheck the options "Update lists when importing or pasting references" and "Update lists during data entry"
  3. Click OK

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Add to the Journals Term List

The Medical Journals Term List contains over 13,000 titles but this is by no means all the medical journals published in the world. Inevitably there will be references in your EndNote library containing journal titles not included in the imported list.

In order to create a reference list that correctly uses the abbreviated or full titles as required by your reference style, you will sometimes need to add extra entries to the journals term list in your EndNote library. Remember to disable automatic updating of the terms list as explained above.

Scenario 1 – APA 6th
If a journal title still appears abbreviated in your reference list this means you have a reference in your EndNote library with an abbreviated journal title which does not match any entries in the journals term list so it cannot be "translated" to a full title. To deal with this:

  1. Find the correct full title for the journal by using the NLM journals catalog
  2. Add a new entry to the journals term list for this journal as explained below. Type the full title into Column 1 and the abbreviation into Column 2.
  3. In your Word document, click Update Citations and Bibliography and the journal title should now appear in full.

Scenario 2 – Vancouver (and similar styles using abbreviations)
If a journal title still appears in full in your reference list this means you have a reference to your EndNote library with a full journal title which does not match any entries in the journals term list so it cannot be "translated" to an abbreviated title. To deal with this:

  1. Find the correct abbreviated title (the NLM abbreviation) for the journal by using the NLM journals catalog. Note that one word titles are not normally abbreviated
  2. Add a new entry to the journals term list for this journal as explained below. Type the full title into Column 1 and the abbreviation into Column 2.
  3. In your Word document, click Update Citations and Bibliography and the journal title should now appear in abbreviated form.

Note: When entering a reference manually in your EndNote library, you should enter the journal title in full even though you know you will be using a style requiring abbreviated titles. It is generally easier to get the full title correct than the abbreviated one at the data entry stage. If it proves necessary, you should then add this journal to the terms list as explained above.

To add a new entry to the journals term list in your EndNote library:

  1. Open your EndNote library
  2. Click Tools > Open Term Lists > Journals Term List
  3. Click New Term
  4. Type the full journal title in the first box (each significant word begins with a capital letter)
  5. Type the NLM abbreviation in the second box (Abbreviation 1)
  6. Click OK and then Close


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Troubleshooting Journal Title Abbreviations

If you have successfully imported the Medical Journals Term List and disabled automatic updating but you are still not getting the right result, there are a few things you should check.

Check the journals term list in your EndNote library:

Tools > Open Term Lists > Journals Term List. Look for the full title of the journal. If it is not there, add an entry

Check the reference in your EndNote library:

  1. If the journal title begins with an article, e.g. The Journal of...., remove the article
  2. If the journal title includes a qualifying term such as a place of publication, remove those words (usually appearing at the end of a title)
  3. Small differences in punctuation and spaces in a journal title can prevent it being matched with an entry in the journals term list

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What's in a Journals Term List?

You can open your journals term list to see the data by clicking Tools > Open Term Lists > Journals Term List. You can expand the box (by dragging one of the corners diagonally) and enlarge any of the columns (by dragging the arrows in the column header bar) to get a clearer view of the data contained in the journals term list:

The data in the columns is:

  • Full journal        =     Full journal title
  • Abbreviation 1    =    NLM (MEDLINE) abbreviation, with full stops added
  • Abbreviation 2    =    NLM (MEDLINE) abbreviation, without full stops
  • Abbreviation 3    =    Full journal title but with and replaced by an ampersand

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Journals Term Lists for Other Subjects

If medical journals are not relevant to you, then you may choose to import journals term lists for one or more of the following subjects:

 •  Anthropology          •  Korean Medical Terms
 •  Astronomy and Astrophysics       •  Law
 •  BioScience       •  Philosophy
 •  Chemical       •  Religion
 •  Economics       •  Zoological Records
 •  Humanities


To add one of these lists to your EndNote library:

  1. Open your EndNote library
  2. Click Tools > Define Term Lists
  3. Highlight Journals and click Import List
  4. Navigate to the folder in which the journals term lists are stored:
    C:\Program Files\EndNote X6\Terms Lists
    Note: may also be called C:\Program Files(x86)\EndNote X6\Terms Lists
  5. Highlight the relevant txt file for your subject and click Open
  6. When the list has been imported you will see a message indicating how many titles have been added to your journals term list
  7. Click OK and click Close on the Term Lists dialog box.

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