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How to save time on referencing with the power of EndNote

By Tania 02 Dec 2019
Student sorts through a spread of highlighted papers.

I am finishing my Masters of Project Management this semester, and it may surprise you to learn that I referenced Kerzner’s project management handbook over 30 times. For each assignment, I would rewrite Kerzner in, faithfully looking at the publishing information held in the first three pages, re-writing the year and the publisher into Word. I am not sure if you have ever thought about it, but making a reference in Word each time takes about 4 minutes (yes, I timed this, assuming one author). So referencing Kerzner took approximately 2 hours of my total life away. 2 hours.

I am sure this time could have been better spent procrastinating more effectively on the PS4, or possibly even studying. Two hours just for Kerzner, let alone journals or books with 10 authors – they take forever to reference! If you think about how many times you cite things over and over again in studying each unit… surely there must be a better way.

EndNote is a program provided by USQ that allows you to save your references in an EndNote library and then will insert the chosen reference into your paragraph or sentence for each new assignment. And it automatically builds the list of references in either Harvard or APA or whatever style you choose, at the end of the assignment. Most importantly, it is appropriately priced at student rates… FREE! My lecturer got me interested in EndNote and the USQ Library staff helped me with the questions I had (the Library staff are fabulous by the way, so send them an email if you need library help).

So, what is EndNote? At its simplest, Endnote is a program with a downloadable plugin that adds a tab in Word which offers the Cite While You Write function. Here it is in full splendour:

Picture of EndNote program menu.

Figure 1: Tada!

What’s beautiful is that EndNote can literally cite as you write, which includes setting up the bibliography. And the references are stored in ‘the cloud’ once you create an EndNote Web account (for free) so you won’t lose your references if your dodgy old laptop dies. If you feel like going to another level, EndNote can sync to your iPad which has an EndNote app as well.

For those who are halfway through your university studies or even on your last unit, as I was when I found out about EndNote, don’t despair. It is still well worth using. Especially considering that the referencing criteria in your assignment is worth a percentage of your grade.

You can open up your old assignments, find the reference list and search the Library for those titles. In Library Search or the Library catalogue you can export the reference to EndNote, check it against the style guide on the Library’s referencing pages, edit it to make it fit the style, then it is there for whenever you need to refer to it again in an assignment. If you consider you might use five of those references in your next assignment – you are already saving time.

EndNote automatically creates your references in the style (you choose it) that your course requires. For example, my courses use Harvard AGPS so I just set that in my EndNote library, go to Word, check it has the same style set, insert a reference in-text, and it’s done. The list of references appears at the end of the assignment and my in-text citations are just right – no marks lost for referencing and I’ve demonstrated in black and white that I’m a committed student. The examiners like that.

EndNote is also a ‘research organiser’, which means it organises my notes and references in a way that I can go back and find something I wrote a week ago even if I can’t remember which article or book I saw it in! EndNote also organises my references in groups so I can have a different reference lists for each of my courses.

Referencing shouldn’t be tedious and life consuming. EndNote makes referencing easier and faster allowing you to focus on the actual content of your assignment. While there are other EndNote-like tools out there, this one is free to us as USQ students and is definitely well worth checking out.

To find out more about how EndNote can help you with your assignments, visit the USQ Library website or sign up for one of their free classes. Because nobody should spend 2 hours of their life referencing Kerzner over and over again. Nobody.

Author profile image of Tania.