Introduction to EndNote for Dissertation Formatting

EndNote is a software program that manages citations and generates bibliographies. For a long and often unwieldy project like writing a dissertation, it is extremely helpful to use a referencing system that stores your references and makes it easier for you to eventually input citations into your dissertation. At the end of months—and sometimes years—of research, EndNote just might save your sanity.

A Thomson Reuters product, EndNote can be purchased by university students at a 50% discount. If you’re uncertain if whether or not EndNote is right for you and your dissertation, they also offer a 30-day trial through their website. Some universities have even purchased a site license that allows free EndNote access to their students, faculty, and staff—be sure to check with your university or doctoral advisor.

How EndNote Works

In addition to storing and organizing your dissertation’s references into one or more libraries, EndNote enables you to import PDF and graphic files with images, tables, or figures relevant to your study. Forget the photocopied articles and the alphabetized index cards on which doctoral students of the past had to rely. Now scholars can have all their information in one centralized location that is accessible online from anywhere.

EndNote offers a staggering 5,000 types of bibliographic styles, including Chicago Manual of Style, MLA, Bluebook, APA, and AMA. Users can also customize their citation style through EndNote’s patented “Cite While You Write” (CWYW) technology (learn more about how this can be helpful to the dissertation process through this video.

After importing the EndNote software to your word processor, you can select which citation style you prefer and can import references easily as you write. At the end of your dissertation, you can either manually or automatically generate a properly formatted bibliography. Another helpful feature is that your references, whether parenthetical or footnotes, will be synchronized with your final bibliography. If at any point you delete a reference within the manuscript, it will be deleted automatically from the bibliography as well—yes, it’s just that easy.

An additional benefit of using EndNote for your dissertation is that you can export references from online electronic databases like Worldcat or LexisNexis. Not only does this save you time, it also eliminates the number of errors that you might unwittingly introduce into your references.

Potential Cons

Of course, even the best systems and shortcuts have downsides. One possible problem with EndNote is that they regularly update their software and introduce new versions. In less than 15 years of existence, Thomson Reuters has already released version 17 of EndNote in both Windows and Mac formats. These upgrades can be problematic when writing a dissertation, which might take years to finish. You can continue to use your older version without having to pay the price of a $100 upgrade; but, sometimes the older software can cause compatibility problems, especially if Microsoft also introduces a new version of MS Word.

EndNote's Great Support Team

Thankfully, EndNote does have a robust service team that can assist you with your inevitable glitches. Their online forums can also be very helpful in troubleshooting various problems. If you have encountered a problem with a pesky dissertation formatting issue, it is likely that someone else on their forums has had a similar problem and shared it. Librarians are also useful resources, and your university might even have a detailed guide on how to use EndNote.

Other Similar (and Free) Software for Dissertation Formatting

Zotero is a free competitor of EndNote that was developed in 2006 by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. While Zotero offers some of the same options as EndNote, the speed and ability to customize citations and EndNote’s excellent customer service gives them a clear competitive edge in the dissertation citation-management market. At the eleventh hour of finalizing your dissertation, if your bibliography’s format suddenly implodes beyond reason, you will appreciate the numerous ways that EndNote’s paid support team can be contacted.

Need More Help?

Despite EndNote’s helpful features and excellent support team, are you still struggling with formatting and organizing your dissertation’s citations and references? Feel free to contact us to further assist you. The editors on staff at are trained experts in using EndNote software and can assist you throughout the dissertation editing and formatting process.

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Agrawal, Abha. Endnote 1-2-3 Easy! Reference Management for the Professional. New York: Springer, 2009.

Croxhall, Brian. “Zotero vs. Endnote.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. Accessed March 24, 2014.

Edhlund, B.M. Manuscript Writing Using Endnote and Word: A User’s Guide that Makes Your Scientific Writing Easier. Stallarholmen, Sweden: Form & Kunskap, 2005.

EndNote. Accessed March 24, 2014.
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