Converting a word document written with Endnote to Zotero

Hello All,

Thanks for this wonderful tool.
I am currently writing my thesis and I have been using endnote. Is there a way i can convert all my references (citations) in the word file to Zotero without reading through the whole Thesis again?

Thanks alot, i will appreciate you help
  • At the moment, no, but there are plans to add this functionality.
  • Although, this should be a secondary priority, given that one cannot even use a document written with Zotero with Zotero*! This is a critical weakness that I hope gets addressed soon; before you start worrying about reading Endnote fields.

    * e.g. another instance of a Zotero database
  • Thats ok. thanks alot for your response. Is there a way i can participate in these extensions?
  • If you would like to get involved with development join the dev list. Introduce yourself, lay out your experience, and tell the other developers what you would like to work on.
  • Here's the not-so-quick-and-dirty way that I convert an EndNote-formatted paper to Zotero:

    1. Show full fields in Word: In Word 2007, go to Office button -> Word Options -> Show document content, or Tools -> Options -> [I'm not sure which tab] in earlier versions. Select "Show field codes instead of their values." For the conversion process, I recommend also setting "Field shading" to "Always." Click OK. Now, full fields are shown throughout the document, in grey.

    2. Search the document for "EndNote." This will take you to each EndNote-formatted reference one by one, while skipping the Zotero-formatted ones. Manually replace each one with the Zotero equivalent. If you're not sure what the reference is because the expanded code is too confusing (as is almost always the case for me), just right click on the code, and select "Toggle Field Codes", and then replace with the Zotero equivalent.

    3. When you're done, build the Zotero bibliography right after the EndNote bibliography (usually at the end of the document). With the two bibliographies side by side, compare them to make sure you didn't miss converting any previous EndNote reference. You could print out the bibliographies for easier comparison.

    4. When you're satisfied that you've converted everything, then delete the EndNote bibliography, and that should be the end of EndNote in that document. Now you can go back to Word Options and unselect the "Show field codes" checkbox, and change the "Field Shading" option to "When selected" (my preferred option), or whatever you prefer.
  • big thanks cokoli but what a pain in the bum! I am half through a phd (40,000 of 80,000 words) and the thought of converting pages of an endnote bibliog to zotero is frightening, might just stick to endnote. I am a very big fan of zotero but untill this issue is addressed I can't risk swapping over which is a pain as i have already built the zotero library.
  • Switching over a bibliography is easy. It's the individual citations that are problematic.
  • Uhm, Ticket #686 (new enhancement; Endnote to Zotero field converter), does indeed describe this enhancement, but the suggestion there is lacking in that it requires too much user intervention.

    Here's what we need: Because in most cases a user will first convert and Endnote library to a Zotero library and then convert Word documents that used that Endnote library into docs that use Zotero citations...

    1) When converting the Endnote lib to a Zotero lib, embed in each Zotero lib record two special fields: the original Endnote lib name and the Endnote record number.

    2) When converting the document file from Endnote citations to Zotero citations, match Endnote citation record to the Endnote record number in the (converted) Zotero lib. You'll have to ensure that the user opens the correct corresponding converted library, perhaps by checking with the library name encoded in the records.

    This method may not be foolproof, but there really should be enough information to nearly fully automate the process if both library and document-citations are converted, and users can spotcheck the results.

    My transition from Endnote to Zotero cannot happen until this need is addressed, and it does not seem to be a particularly difficult problem; I have too many thousands of Endnote citations embedded in too many documents to either manually convert or toss all that old work.

    Thanks to whomever does this!
  • You can use this script :

    and try to convert your citations to BibTex format which is the format which Zotero uses for importing its references.
  • Any progress on this functionality in the new 2.x betas?


  • Yes, ability to convert EndNote in-text fields to Zotero is critical feature for everyone who is migrating from EndNote to Zotero. Please address this asap.
  • Fall (October) 2011, still looking for this? Any word?
  • no. Given Endnote's propensity to sue and it's outlandish EULA I don't think there is much desire on the part of Zotero to get involved in this.
    Google Zotero Endnote lawsuit for some history.
  • Hey all! Found it!

    When you want to convert your EndNote formatted document into Zotero formatted do this:
    1) Do not forget to export your libraries and travelling libraries (assigned to the exact documents) into Zotero in advance.
    2) Change the output style in your document to Author-Date
    3) Edit the output style Author-Date, in the "templates" change the contents to {Author, Year}, and in Author list change settings to "if 2 or more authors, list the first 1 authors", the same with "if 3 or more authors, list the first 1 authors"
    4) Now format bibliography
    5) You have your document formatted in RTF Scan format
    6) Now you can remove field codes, delete all the bibliography and work in RTF Scan format either in MS Word or in Google Docs. When you need your bibliography at the end of document just restore it
    7) I warn you that there will be no Zotero field codes in the resultant document. But it will be "ready to use". Tried, for me it works great.

    I would advice developers to make it possible to restore the codes according to the library-bibliography pairs. You could probably make the "remove field codes" operation reversible. Or the "scan RTF..." fuction can produce the document with field codes. It can be needed.

    Best regards,
    Sergey Pustylnikov

    Offtop. If you are in immunology of infectious diseases check out my project -
    Admins, if offtop is critically prohibited, sorry, just delete it.
  • It's not possible to store field codes in RTF, that's why Zotero doesn't create them.
  • Any solutions that are easier than the solutions listed above (given the upgrade to 5.0)?
  • Hi,
    Thank you Sergey Pustylnikov and the rest for your help. I have many documents using Endnote citations, some with over 200 citations, and all are in APA style. I followed the steps Sergey Pustylnikov provided with a tester doc of 20 citations and I also read in the link

    For those like me (wanting to convert your docs from Endnote citations to a Zotero doc with active citations and keep working on a Microsoft Word doc in Mac), the steps provided don't help you finish with an equivalent. (Plus, there's many ambiguous citations because I have authors who have accents in their last names or other issues, so to verify, i had to select most citations one-by-one anyways.) I'm just sharing this experience for others to know that in the end, the time spent following these steps doesn't pay off. At least it didn't for me.
  • Yes, the effectiveness of RTF scan will really depend on the size of the library and the uniqueness of each citation.

    Can you share a document with Endnote citations that you had trouble with? Such as by uploading to dropbox or similar and posting a link?
  • Hi bwiernik,
    Thanks for your interest.
    Here's a dropbox link to a sample doc with Endnote activated:
  • But the biggest drawback remains, right? Your document after RTF scan _isn't_ an active Zotero document, which presumably people would like.

    I think it'd still be great to get some more effective conversion, but it's not going to be easy (which is why it hasn't happened in the last 10 years)
  • edited June 5, 2018
    To adamsmith: Yes, totally true. That's the biggest drawback, and why it doesn't make sense (at least for my work situation) to go through the trouble of the RTF scan. My plan is that I might as well do the one-by-one changes in old Endnote docs that I really want with Zotero. (For my new docs, I'm using Zotero.)
  • Converting a Word document written in EndNote to Zotero is the one feature that I miss in Zotero.
    I have written a book using EndNote citations and I would love to update it using Zotero, but that doesn't seem to be likely - mainly since I used a self-defined output-style and I am referencing a lot of publications which won't convert well via RTF scan AND because as adamsmith said, even after reviewing all the issues an RTF scan still won't result in an active Zotero document.

    It would be gorgeous if some time in the future this could be solved.

    Ideally, it would even be possibly to import the EndNote output style into Zotero instead of having to rewrite it completely :)

    Loving Zotero anyways, that's for sure, but man would that be gorgeous.
  • Endnote has in the past sued Zotero for trying to make Endnote citation styles work in Zotero, so I don’t think these sorts of steps are likely.
  • Not clear what the status is at the moment. Ticker #686 was updated with a "wontfix":

    I guess this means that this will never be possible?
  • edited June 11, 2020
    Thomson-Reuters filed lawsuits against Zotero in the past when they had features for using Endnote styles in Zotero. Zotero very likely is not going to deal with reverse-engineering anything from Endnote (e.g., converting an Endnote doc to a Zotero one).

    It would certainly possible to write a tool like that could do the conversions, but given the legal action in the past, none of the frequent Zotero volunteers has done so.
  • edited June 10, 2020
    It would certainly possible to write a tool like that could do the conversions
    I reached out to Clarivate a while back to ask if it was okay to have Reference Extractor also extract EndNote citations (which is technically trivial), but they responded that "if you moved forward with development, there is a chance that the company would choose to take legal action", so I dropped it there. See also

    One solution would be to format-agnostically extract any field-embedded XML in Word documents, and just avoid writing any EndNote-specific code or documentation, but the previous owners of EndNote filed a lawsuit against Zotero where they didn't seem too concerned about the actual technical specifics.
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