A Review of EndNote Basic
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Bradley A. Long, MSLS, AHIP
Embedded Health Sciences Librarian
Harrell Health Sciences Library
Penn State College of Medicine – University Park Regional Campus


EndNote Basic is a free online bibliographic management tool, available through Clarivate Analytics, a company that was spun off from Thomson Reuters in 2016. EndNote Basic, also known as either EndNote Web or EndNote Online, is a scaled-back version of the well-known commercial version of EndNote. This tool can be used by students, faculty, researchers, and staff through its web-based interface. It has a primary input feature, the storage and management of bibliographic citations, and a primary output feature, the generation of bibliographies for papers.


Anyone can register for a free EndNote Basic personal account at https://access.clarivate.com/login?app=endnote. All one needs is a valid email account in order to confirm their account registration. The email address will also serve as one’s user name. Registration options linked to Facebook and LinkedIn accounts also exist.

The primary input feature of EndNote Basic is bibliographic citation storage and management, using cloud-based storage. Citations can be exported from a vast majority of bibliographic databases, from one of their nine partner databases directly into EndNote Basic, or by exporting a database generated export file. The export file formats will function with any version of EndNote, as long as either RIS files or a PubMed NBIB are used. One can also create bibliographic records within EndNote Basic itself. All versions of EndNote also include a web browser plug-in for directly capturing bibliographic information from online journal articles, ebooks, websites, and various other formats of web-based resources. Once citation information has been either imported or directly input into EndNote Basic, it can be edited.

EndNote Basic can store up to five files within each citation record, which could include a PDF of the article itself. However, the maximum storage capacity for EndNote Basic is 50,000 citations and 2 GB of file storage, far less than the commercial version. Citations can be organized into folders to help streamline multiple projects, and these folders can be shared with other EndNote users who may be working on the same project. However, one would need to inform others that folder sharing has occurred, since EndNote Basic does not generate any type of notifications. Another drawback is that citation-level file sharing is not available to EndNote Basic users, unlike the commercial version.

The primary output feature is the ability to create bibliographies within Microsoft Word, via EndNote’s “Cite While You Write” plug-in. This plug-in allows one to seamlessly produce bibliographies within Word from one’s own EndNote database of citations. This function is the primary reason for using any version of EndNote. EndNote Basic also includes 21 different citation styles, which is significantly less than the over 6,000 options available in EndNote X9. As a word of caution, “Cite While You Write” will not work properly if any similar types of plug-ins are downloaded from other bibliographic management tools. Those plug-ins will need to be uninstalled from Word prior to using “Cite While You Write.” Furthermore, end users citing from shared folders will need to move the citations from the shared folder into their own account files because “Cite While You Write” does not search shared folders for citations.

A unique feature available with all versions of EndNote that could be useful to those who wish to publish an article is the Manuscript Matcher. When users input the title and abstract of their article into search boxes, EndNote will generate a list of suggested journals to which to submit the article. The publication suggestions are derived from Web of Science citation data.

Institutions also have added-value content that can be included in any version of EndNote. Library catalogs or discovery tools can be added as connection files, which act as searchable databases within EndNote that can be used for importing citations. Also, subscribers to other Clarivate Analytics or Thomson Reuters products, such as Web of Science, have the ability to turn on their link resolvers within EndNote Basic.

Business Model

The primary business model is to provide EndNote Basic as an introduction to its commercial product. This is even pushed on the EndNote Basic registration screen, in the form of an offer for a 30-day free trial. The cost of the commercial version ranges from $115.95 for the student user up to $299.95 for a nonaffiliated single user copy of the current version, EndNote X9. Version upgrades are also available, starting at $99.95.

The bibliographic management tool marketplace is a competitive one. There are two other free bibliographic management tools that are major competitors, Mendley and Zotero. Additionally, there is a major competitor for institutional subscriptions, RefWorks. Thus, this competitive marketplace may also have influenced the free availability of EndNote Basic.


EndNote Basic is a cost-effective means of managing citations and producing bibliographies. It is also a platform that can be used to share bibliographic information for research as well as to create a research profile. It easily integrates into Microsoft Word, and citations can be imported from virtually any bibliographic database or web-based resource.

Even though it is a relatively easy-to-use product, EndNote Basic does have a little bit of a learning curve. Thus, a library should consider providing end-user training and support for EndNote Basic, if it does not already have a program in place. Additionally, Clarivate Analytics also provides support documentation through a website, a LibGuide, and a quick reference PDF, which are listed below.Many libraries already provide support services and have their own LibGuides and other training materials readily available on their websites.

Furthermore, any library that has the ability to add content to EndNote Basic through already existing database subscriptions should take full advantage of doing so in order to maximize its usability features.

List of Clarivate Analytics’ Available Training and Support Resources:

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