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EndNote Desktop: Organize References

A guide to EndNote Desktop X9

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Groups Overview

There are 5 different kinds of groups in EndNote Desktop: custom, smart, combination, permanent, and temporary. Permanent and temporary groups are automatically created by Desktop and you can't delete or modify them, but you can create and modify custom, smart, and combination groups. See the boxes below for instructions.


  • If you delete a custom, smart , or combination group, the references it contains will not be deleted from your library.
  • You can have a combined total of up to 5,000 custom, smart, and combination groups in an EndNote library.
  • All groups are organized under broader headings called "Group Sets." You can create up to 5,000 group sets in a library.
  • If you delete a reference from a group, it will remain in your library.
  • You can have the same reference in multiple groups.

Custom Groups

A custom group is simply a group that you create and to which you manually add references. To create a custom group:

Step 1: Select or create the group set under which you want to put the custom group.

Step 2: In the Groups menu click Create Group, enter a name for the group, and hit enter.

Step 3: Add references to the new custom group in one of two ways:

  • Select and drag individual or multiple references to the custom group.
  • Right click an individual reference, hold your cursor over Add References To, and choose the desired custom group.

Smart Groups

According to the EndNote Desktop manual smart groups "use search criteria to dynamically update groups as existing references are edited or new references are added to the library."

To create a smart group:

Step 1: Select or create the group set under which you want to put the smart group.

Step 2: In the Groups menu click Create Smart Group

Step 3: Name the smart group and enter your search strategy in the smart group pop-up window.

Step 4: Click Create and your new smart group will appear in the Groups panel

Example 1

Step A: Choose the group set under which the smart group will appear.

Step B: Name the smart group.

Step C: Designate the search strategy. The smart group 2000-2013 will only contain references for items published between 2000 and 2013.

Step D: Click Create and the smart group 2000-2013 will appear in the Groups panel. Any subsequent references added to your library with a publication date between 2000 and 2013 will automatically be added to this smart group.

Example 2

Step A: Choose or create the group set under which the smart group will appear.

Step B: Name the smart group.

Step C: Designate the search strategy. The smart group IJIM will only contain articles from the International Journal of Information Management.

Step D: Click Create and the smart group IJIM will appear in the Groups panel. Any subsequent articlea imported into EndNote Desktop from the International Journal of Information Management will be automatically added to this smart group.

Combination Groups

A combination group is a group composed of references from existing groups in your EndNote Desktop library.

To create a combination group:

Step A: Open the Groups menu and select Create From Groups.

Step B: Name the group.

Step C: Select the existing groups to include in the new combination group.

Step D: Click Create and the new combination group will appear in the Groups panel.

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