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EndNote Desktop

Citation management software helps you organize your research and manage your references

Full Text / PDF

EndNote can automatically download PDF articles from library subscriptions if you configure your settings.

Select the Edit menu, then choose Preferences.

edit preferences

Choose the Find Full-Text menu and copy the following URL strings into the corresponding boxes:

  • OpenURL path =
  • Working off campus? Then you need to add the following string to the Authenticate with URL

Success! Ready to test it out? Under the References menu, select Find Full Text, then Authenticate. EndNote will now be able to retrieve PDF documents from library subscriptions or freely available online.

find full text from your references


You can also try to Find Full Text instead of Authenticate. This option will look on the web for freely available pdf articles. While this feature works pretty well, there will be times when this automated process does not work. For example:

  • When there is no free access and/or the library does not have a subscription to the journal
  • When the full text is embedded within an EBSCO database and not independently hosted on a journal website the library has a subscription to.

Automatic PDF Importing and Renaming

You can import PDFs and have them re-named to a consistent convention by following these steps. From the EndNote Preferences menu, select PDF Handling.  First, decide if you want to EndNote to rename your files automatically for you. In the example below, Author+Year+Title have been selected.

pdf handling

Next, we highly recommend that you enable the PDF Auto Import Folder. This function will automatically connect your downloaded PDFs to the citations in your library.  

First, create a folder on your computer that you plan to consistently download journal PDFs into.  Be careful not to create the folder on OneDrive folder or other file sharing service. In the example above, a folder called MyEndNotePdfs was created on the C:/ drive in a users Documents folder. But you can create the folder on your desktop or anyplace else you remember.  After you create a folder, you can check the box to enable automatic importing, and then select this folder.

  • Pro Tip: EndNote makes a copy of the PDF from this folder and places a copy of the pdf in your EndNote Data folder. So on a regular basis, you should delete the pdf documents in this special folder since EndNote already has a copy and you probably don't want duplicates taking up space on your hard drive.  But since the EndNote data file also lives on your computer and not OneDrive, you may want to save PDFs to your OneDrive or a cloud sharing service as a backup copy. This may sound like a lot of extra steps, but if you want automatic importing of PDFs, and you like PDFs linked to the reference in EndNote, this process will prevent problems with file corruption.

Can EndNote Create a Reference from a PDF?

We get it. You have a ton of PDF files on your computer and you want EndNote to generate a reference in your library using these documents. This option does exist, but it's not foolproof. EndNote may be able to create a reference if the document is OCR friendly and has a DOI associated with it.  You also need to be connected to the internet so EndNote can locate the PDF online. Not all citation elements may import precisely, but if you have a lot of PDF's it may help you get started. 

Des Moines University Library