Importing EndNote files into Zotero

Hi: Thanks for a great tool.

How do I import my Endnote libraries into Zotero?


  • As per
    "Click on the gear icon and select “Import.” Browse to the location of your file and save it into Zotero."
    Endnote can export in a variety of formats, including RIS. See also:
    in case you need to troubleshoot.
  • I'm getting the "no translator could be found for the given file." It's EndNote 6. Not sure it'll read the thing + I can't seem to be able to download (or find) the RIS export tool at the EndNote site. Any suggestions?
  • From EndNote, select the correct output style for the export. Under the File menu select "Output Styles." From the list of output styles select RefMan (RIS). After exporting from Endnote, use the instructions noksagt mentions.
  • @aaronwilcher:

    Just a note that the RIS style isn't always installed and can sometimes be removed. It sounds like this might be the case for aaron.
  • Thanks Dan and noksagt, I appreciate it.

    I'm still having problems. I am able to download the RIS style, but it seems like my version of EndNote doesn't know what to do with it (EndNote 6). I wonder if there's another way to export my bibliographies to Zotero. Will Zotero read any other kind of documents? Maybe there's another way to convert the library into a document that Zotero can read, besides the RIS files? If Zotero will read the gamut of library bibliography entires, why not a Word document? (I know nothing about programming.)

    Once I can begin this process I hope to completely abandon EndNote, not because it's a bad product, but because I need to catalog so many kinds of media, images, websites, qucickly from the browser, and Endnote is cumbersome for someone not tech savvy, like me. This is the first step in making the transition to Zotero. Thanks for your quick feedback since the release. I really appreciate it. Once I can get this thing rolling, I'll surely become a Zotero "evangelist."

  • edited October 29, 2006
    Zotero can import a variety of formats. Two such formats which you should be able to export from Endnote (using the zip file for Endnote 4-7 linked to on that page) are Refer and BibTex.

    (Slightly off-topic, but Word DOCs are proprietary, minimally documented, and binary. They don't have a standard way of storing bibliographic citation information. The new MS OpenXML format will have a "standard" way to do this & Zotero may use this when they add the ability to work with MS Office. If Zotero is made to write to this format, I suppose it might be a reasonable feature request to import it too. But none of your current Word files are likely to be in the correct format.)
  • edited December 10, 2006
    Errors in the orignial Endnote "RefMan (RIS) Export" - Filter.
    Hi folks,
    Since i give a endnote course tomorrow, i have one very important annotation. The RefMan (RIS) Export - Style (Endnote: Output-Style; File>Export>Text) has also in the new version (30.11.2006) a lot of errors. You have to correct it manualy. I think it works correct if you delete all the "forced separations" in the output style and add some "Apostrophs", because they are missing. If you have any questions and commands, please dont hesitate to ask me.
  • I have my references in an Endnote 8.0 file, and my Endnote application is not working well (I cannot open my notes). When I follow the sequence - RefMan (RIS) Export - Style (Endnote: Output-Style; File>Export>Text) - I find that the new file has zero kb. Is there some way of translating my Enl file directly?
  • Doesn't appear that this dialog every resolved the Endnote export problem. I am running Endnote X. I have the RefMan RIS style installed and selected, but the export feature of Endnote does not offer RIS as an export option. It only offers txt, rtf, html, or xml. Has anyone solved the export problem for a more recent version of Endnote?
  • A little persistence pays off. Turns out that if you set the output style in Endnote X to RefMan, the export the file as a text (txt) file, Zotero can upload the references flawlessly. Note of caution. If you Endnote library is large, then this can freeze up the browser, so I found it necessary to carve up my library into smaller units for importing. Hope this helps others.
  • In fact it does not really freeze, it just take ages to build the database.
  • Hi
    I am trying to import a .txt file in RIS output style from Endnote X running on Win XP into Zotero running on Ubuntu 7.0.4. The process appears to start but is terminate shortly after with the message "An error occurred while trying to import the selected file. Please ensure that the file is valid and try again."
    Any ideas on how to overcome this?
  • I'm running Endnote 9 on a Mac. I had the same problem as carneirog when I tried to import an RIS file. So I used BibTex as the output style in Endnote instead, and then imported from that. It seems to have worked perfectly. The only issue I have is that the various research notes I took and recorded in Endnote seem to have shown up either as "abstract" or as "extra" on the "info" tab about each item. I assume a find and replace in the .txt file will take care of this, but does anyone know what's required?

  • Another alternative would be to do a find & replace in the RDF file that Zotero will generate for me, but this seems complicated. The notes are presented as separate items in the file, with their own identifying item number cross-referenced to the original citation item. So without knowing the rules for generating these item numbers, which ones might be in use, etc., a find and replace seems like it's not going to fix it. Any thoughts out there?
  • Thanks.
    Using BibTex instead of RIS solved the problem. Everything imported without problems.
  • Feel free to send files that don't import to, and we'll take a look at them.
  • Hi, BibTex works fine with me. RefMan gave troubles.

  • I have been trying to import my libraries from Endnote (V9 for Mac) with partial success. I am not experienced in this kind of thing, so I compared imports using 4 formats: RefMan, BibTeX, Endnote Export and Refer.

    Most of the basic info came through with all of them. However:

    In RefMan, some of the dates of publication came through incorrectly! I think it may have become confused with dates or 4-figure numbers which occurred in other fields.

    In Endnote (Export), there was some muddling of fields.

    In BibTeX, there was also some muddling of fields, and URLs were not picked up.

    In none of the above were my extensive research notes picked up. They all just ignored them, except for the Refer export format. This picked up a portion of the research notes and put them into the 'Extra' field. However, it cut off after a certain amount of text. It doesn't recognise URLs, but this still seemed to me to export the most data successfully and correctly.

    I am not impressed at not being able to transfer my notes. A list of references is all very well, but it is not reasonable to have to copy across pages of notes by hand (as someone has suggested).

    (I still like the look of Zotero so far, though, and am hoping to switch across properly.)
  • All of those formats are simple, flat text files. You can open them in a text editor to see if there are issues with Endnote's export or with Zotero's import.
    In Endnote (Export), there was some muddling of fields....In BibTeX, there was also some muddling of fields
    How so?
    In none of the above were my extensive research notes picked up.
    I doubt they were present in the exported file. These legacy formats can't really store very rich data like extensive notes. You'd have this problem switching from Endnote to any other reference manager, as Endnote doesn't yet export to a richer open format.
    They all just ignored them, except for the Refer export format. This picked up a portion of the research notes and put them into the 'Extra' field. However, it cut off after a certain amount of text. It doesn't recognise URLs, but this still seemed to me to export the most data successfully and correctly.
    Check the exported file to see if it is responsible for cutting the text off. You might be able to create a new exporter in Endnote that is based on Refer, but exports URLs.
  • @noksagt: There is a workaround for this using the current BibTex exporter. @Silverfin: Here's how you can get your Endnote research notes and URLs into Zotero. This is based on my Mac experience, but I don't see any reason the Windows procedure would be different since Endnote seems to work pretty similarly on the two platforms.

    Endnote 9 has two fields where I have stored my own notes. One is called "Notes" and the other "Research Notes." The BibTeX exporter only includes the data from Notes (if you select "BibTex Export.ens" as your Output Style in Endnote and open the preview pane, you can see exactly what it will output for each of your records). It ignores "Research Notes," and also ignores URLs. Anything that is in the BibTex Note field, when imported into Zotero, goes into the Extra field (just above Date Added at the bottom of the Info tab).

    So, if you need your research notes and URLs in Zotero, you can use the following procedure (I strongly suggest making a copy of your Endnote library and doing this on the copy):
    1. In Endnote, under the References menu, select Change and Move fields
    2. Use the dialog to ask it to move everything from Research Notes to Notes (you can insert after, before, or overwrite current material there as you wish).
    3. Use the same facility to move info from your URL field to the Notes field after or before the current material as you wish.
    4. Use "Export" under Endnotes "File" menu to export your library.
    5. Use "Import" under Zotero's gear icon to import your library. (Be prepared to wait a few minutes.)

    All your research notes and URLs will be in the Extra field for the associated records. So far as I can tell, the Extra field will hold an arbitrarily large amount of material although I cannot promise this. But my longest notes seem to be complete.

    As I noted above, it would be great if there were some way to convert this material to associated notes for the relevant records, rather than filling the Extra field. Could the BibTex importer be modified to give this as an option?
  • I was able to import a large RIS (txt) file from EndNote 7, but it had lots of errors. These were
    1. "Journal Article" was added to the Volume field in about 1/2 of the references. For a few references, extraneous text was attached.
    2. One-field authors (e.g., Scandinavian Stroke Study Group) became two-field authors.
    3. In titles, single quotes became double quotes.
    4. For book sections, the book Editors became Contributors
    5. Untitled Notes were attached to about 1/2 of the references.
    6. A lot of Tags were created - I didn't use any in my EndNote file.

    All of these needed to be edited manually. I would recommend that if you import from EndNote 7 to Zotero, carefully review all the references with a particular eye towards the errors noted above.
  • Do you have small excerpts from your RIS file that demonstrates these issues?
  • I am trying to import a .txt file from Endnote X on a Macintosh (running OSX 10.4, exported as RefMan and BibTex). I exported them, but when I try to import into Zotero, I get the following error:

    [JavaScript Application]
    No translator could be found for the given file

    Any ideas?
  • There is a suggestion to understand what's wrong with Endnotes import.

    I try many times importing Endnotes files to Zotero using BibTeX, RIS, Refer Export even with EndnotesExport, with very different results and problems: fields not imported, wrongly placed, transfered in "Extra" or in "Notes", etc. But it's very difficult to analyse what is wrong with real bibliographic data.

    To understand these problems and compare import formats, I made a Endnotes file with 32 "faked items" corresponding to the 32 items types in Endnotes 9 (wich I use now). After, for each item, I put the name of the each field in the field. For exemple, for item type "BooK, field Publisher = "Publisher", field Pages = "pages", etc. For fields TITLE, I put "title + item type name", for Book, Title = "Title_book", for Manuscript, Title is "Title_Manuscript", etc.

    So, if the importation is right, the content of the field will be the same that the field's name, if not, that means that a field is misplaced in Zotero's field. An empty field in Zotero means:
    - a field not imported,
    - placed in an other field
    - a field that does'nt exist in Endnotes (or with a different spelling)....

    After, I export this Endnotes file of 32 items in 4 differents import format: BibTeX, Refman(RIS), Refer Export, and EndnotesExport. Now, I can compare exactly the differences and understand the problems. My impression is that the "best" one (for now) is RIS where the fields not rightly import in Zotero are transfered as "Note". At least, no information is lost. In Refer Export, these fields are put all together in Zotero's "Extra".

    For me, it's a very good way to see and understand what is wrong with import from Endnote. Some fields, as "language" or "short title", are never or rarely (?) imported.
    I don't understand why it's like that, and I can't change it. But if someone like to work to improve Endnotes import to Zotero, I can send my 4 small files in text file to import in Zotero. It's a good tool to anlayse the problem, I think.

    (Sorry for my english, I hope it's clear..)
  • bougau: If you send those files to, we'll add them to a ticket, and people can go through them and identify individual problems. Thanks.

    Note that, in addition to the three possible reasons you list above, some of the fields may simply not be present in the outputted files due to lack of support in the output formats.

    There's an existing ticket to recommend RIS over BibTeX in the documentation.
  • Dan: I'll send my 4 files at support...

    An other problem is that some Endnotes items types are not well imported in Zotero. For exemple, with RIS, the item type "Manuscript" in Endnotes is recognized as "Web page" by Zotero.

    If the complete importation is not possible, the idea the put the Endnotes "not recognized" fields with RIS as "Notes" in Zotero is very good. But, to improve it, is it possible to create a tag to these notes with the name of the field and the content of the field in the note itself.

    For exemple, for item type "Magazine Article", the field "Reviewed item" in Endnote is put in a note in Zotero. If we create the tag "Reviewed Item" to this note (with the text in it), it will be much more useful. Not only the info is not lost, put it's tagged, and much more searchable...
  • bougau: I think that you may find that EndNote will fail to import many of those files in a way that is completely satisfactory. I know that this used to be the case & fundamental limitations of the file formats that Dan alluded to either means that it continues to be the case or that EndNote has had to make work arounds.

    This may be why you are getting so many notes in RIS import--EndNote dumps multiple database fields into the same few general "note" fields allowed in the format, without specifying what information a specific note conveys. If this is still the case, Zotero might not be able to do much better (garbage in=garbage out) unless an improved EndNote export is implemented.

    It should be easy to change Zotero to import much of what EndNote is able to import, though.
  • Noksagt: I understand that create a complete "translator/importator" is not easy. At least, I try to understand wich fields are well imported for each item type. There is many "secondary" fields, not very essential to have and rarely used in a style.

    And, if I found 2-3 items types and fields very badly imported, I could change it for a more "generic" item type or move-merge infos in a field to an other one. That way, I'll really migrate to Zotero, but for now, I have to many items in Endnotes (more than 10 000) to adopt completely Zotero, a very excellent tool.

    Now, import is always a (bad) surprise! We don't know what will be well or quite well imported. If we can know that, we can manage to "adapt-prepare" Endnotes files for importation. It won't be perfect but useful.
  • Has anyone had problems importing large endnote libraries to Zotero?

    I have ~9000 references in endnote and found importing the RIS File with Zotero just crashed the system.

    I get the dialog 'Importing Items' appear but anfter about 1 minute the blue bar ceases to move. After 5-minutes the blue bar starts moving again and zotero becomes active. If you look at the 'Report Errors' menu option the following messages appear...

    [JavaScript Error: "out of memory" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/notifier.js" line: 136}]

    [JavaScript Error: "out of memory" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/notifier.js" line: 135}]

    [JavaScript Error: "out of memory" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/notifier.js" line: 135}]

    [JavaScript Error: "out of memory" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/notifier.js" line: 135}]

    [JavaScript Error: "out of memory" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/notifier.js" line: 135}]


    Anyone have a suggestion about what is going on here? I have left the 'Importing Items' Dialog going for an hour or so but nothing comes across. Eventually I have to shut down the system with the Task Manager.
  • Just a general comment here: I think EndNote users having trouble exporting their data should also report these issues to Thomson/Reuters.

    Some of the most common issues seem to be due to shaky implementation of various export formats on EndNote's end. There is nothing the Zotero folks can do about that (except for trying to be helpful). If Thomson/Reuters gets enough support requests and complaints, one would hope that they try to make some improvements.
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