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EndNote: Sorting, searching, groups

Using EndNote to manage your bibliographic information.

Sorting your Library References

Quick sorting

Sort your library references quickly by clicking on any of the displayed field headings to sort by ascending or descending order.

Changing the sort order

For a more complex sort order use the Sort Library command found under - Tools - Sort Library

The Sort Library command provides a way to arrange all references showing in the Library window for browsing, exporting, printing, or copying.

  1. Click in the reference list.

  2. From the Tools menu, choose Sort Library.

  3. Select one or more field names from the lists in the dialog boxes. Enter the field names in the order you want the references sorted. (You do not have to use all five options.)

  4. Click the button to the right of each field to indicate ascending or descending order.

  5. With the field names entered as desired, click OK.

Systematic Reviews

The EndNote groups function can be useful when organising references for systematic reviews. The following article explains one possible approach in detail:

Micah D. J. Peters (2017) Managing and Coding References for Systematic
Reviews and Scoping Reviews in EndNote
, Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 36:1, 19-31,
DOI: 10.1080/02763869.2017.1259891

Searching your Library

Quick searching

Search your EN library for any word using the Quick search option. This will search for any word or phrase from any field in your EN library or within the pdfs.


Search Panel

Use the Search Panel for a more specific or complex search of your library references. You can search your whole EN library or only within the displayed references. The Search Panel can be hidden or displayed.

A search line includes the Field to be searched, the Comparison operator, and a blank field where you enter your search terms. The Field list allows you to restrict your search to a particular field such as Author, Year, or Keywords - or all fields. By default, the Field lists are set to search Author, then Year, then Title.

You can also restrict your search  to PDF files attached to a reference by selecting the PDF option from the field list.  The Any Field + PDF with Notes option allows you to search any field in a reference and within all PDF files in the selected group that you are searching.

Hints and tips

N.B. The Search box only searches within references in your own EN library.

  • Search within any field in your EN library references or within the pdf
  • Use the asterisk (*) wildcard before or after your search terms to expand your results.
  • Use the plus or minus buttons to the right of each search line to insert or delete a line.
  • Use the Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT to indicate how the search lines are to be combined.
  • If you frequently use the same search strategies on the Search tab, you can use the Options button to save these searches and later load them when you need them.

Creating groups

You can organise references in your library by creating groups. There are some automatically created groups such as All References, Unfiled and Trash. There are temporary groups such as Duplicate References, Imported References and Search Results. But you can also create your own custom groups:

From the Groups tab select Create Group. Type the name of the New Group, and you can then drag-and-drop references into this group or right-click your mouse over a highlighted reference.

  • References can be in more than one group.
  • Deleting a reference from a group does not delete it from the library.

Permanent Groups include All References, Unfiled, and Trash. These are groups that you cannot remove or rename. All References displays every reference in the library. Unfiled displays those references that are not part of a group. Trash is a holding place for references you have removed from the library but have not yet permanently discarded by emptying the Trash.

Temporary Groups include Copied References, Duplicate References, Imported References, Search Results, etc. These temporary groups may be replaced as you use commands in EndNote, and are always deleted when you close a library.

 Custom Groups are manually created by the user to help organise the library - you can drag-and-drop to copy individual references into a custom group.

 To find out which group or groups a reference has been added to - select that reference in your library then click on References (from the top menu) - Record Summary

You can use Group Sets to organise your groups into larger groups. Click on Groups > Create Group Set and name your group set. Group sets are headings - groups are created/placed under Group Sets - any type of group can be created under Group Sets. References can only be transferred to a Group NOT a Group Set.

NB All your groups will show in EndNote Online, but not the Group Sets (however the group sets will sync with your library on another desktop). It is useful to name groups within a group set with part of the group set name so that they are easy to identify if you use EndNote Online.

 Smart Groups use search criteria to dynamically update groups as existing references are edited or new references are added to the library. 

 N.B. Deleting a reference from this group will also delete it from the main library.

 Combination Groups  combine custom and smart groups under a single group to better organise your EndNote references. Use AND, OR, and NOT logic to create new combined group sets. Save references in custom and smart groups, and then save these sets of groups as a combined group set - click on Groups - Create from groups. 

A new feature since EndNote X4 is the auto-group for references in currently open documents.
If you have many more references in your library than you are citing in your document... this auto-group makes it much easier to know which references need to be ‘cleaned up’ before publication. The group disappears each time you close the document. To get the group back again you need to use one of the EndNote tools in Word to activate this command.