Referencing (Made Easier)

If you are on an EndNote training course, please download the training files here: EndNote Training Files

Who is this guide for?

If you find referencing a hassle and want to find an easier way to make sure you reference correctly, then this guide is for you. (So that’s everybody, right?)

Do I actually need to reference?

Yes, you really do. Before we talk about how to reference as easily as possible, it is worth taking a moment to understand why referencing is such a big deal and not just a needless hoop to jump through.

The idea of referencing really has dual benefits: to you as the writer of your essay and to the author of the paper you are referencing. Let’s look at these:

  • Benefits to you. When you write an academic paper, everything you assert has to be backed up by evidence. That can seem like a hassle, particularly if you feel a particular point is something that is true or that you know it from your own experience. But here’s the thing, when anyone tries to read your work they will be looking for holes in it to criticise. Imagine an annoying voice saying ‘oh yeah, prove it’ whenever you write anything in an essay. By adding a reference to each of your points, you are instantly silencing that criticism. You are saying, ‘my argument is sound and here is the evidence of why that is the case’. Better still, anyone reading your paper can then go on and track down the source you have referenced to confirm that they back up your point. In short, referencing makes your arguments (almost) watertight. The better your argument and the references that support it, the better the marks you’ll get. Oh, and if you don’t reference properly, you leave yourself open to claims of plagiarism, which you definitely don’t want.
  • Benefits to the authors of sources you reference. This is common sense, but if someone has spent months or even years of their life working on a paper that you’ve latterly used to construct your argument, it’s just common decency to give them credit. As soon as you start writing academic papers, you become part of the academic community (yes, even as a student) – you become part of a bigger conversation which has been going on since the start of time and your work, as T. S. Eliot wrote of new works of art, will take its place as part of this mass of information and minutely change everything that went before and contribute to everything that is to come. (In case you missed it, I referenced T. S. Eliot above and so linked to the original document where he set down these ideas – referencing in action.) Some of the most famous scientists of all time – Darwin and Newton, for example – have acknowledged that even great works are built on the efforts of the whole community and that we all stand upon the shoulders of giants. If they were good enough to pay credit back, we can all do the same.

How do I reference?

The way you reference depends on the referencing style that your school uses. Over the years, there have been a number of different ways to format references (where all the full stops and commas go!). Before you start referencing, the best thing to do is to go to your course handbook and check which style your school uses.

Once you have that, there is a guide to referencing at UEA that the Learning Enhancement Team have put together. This is a great resource for learning the nuts and bolts of referencing, but what I want to do below is show you how to make referencing as easy as possible and take away the burden on you to manually input all your references.

Referencing made easy

There are various tools out there that automate referencing, allowing you to store references and/or generate formatted citations that you can copy into your essays. These range from quick, free online tools to specially designed products that are incredibly powerful. You will find a brief discussion of some of these on the referencing management page of UEA’s digital toolkit. You may want to have a look and see which tool works the best for you, but the main one UEA supports is EndNote.


Installed on all campus PCs (just search from the start menu) and available in slimmed-down form online, EndNote is a professional tool that UEA have purchased for you to use. (If you want the full software on your own computer to keep, you do have to purchase this but you can use EndNote online and on campus PCs for free.)

For those of you who aren’t familiar with EndNote, it will do all of the following:

  • Save references in one place for you to come back to later
  • Let you organise references and link to full-text files for reading later
  • Insert formatted references directly into your essays in Word
  • Generate a formatted bibliography to place at the end of your essay

All of this is done at just the click of a few buttons – referencing doesn’t get much easier!

Luckily, EndNote have a whole series of training videos and PDF guides to get you started so go on over to the EndNote training pages to learn all you need now. I have also included the basic video below, which tells you everything you need to know in just 7 minutes and some more details about the main tasks you will want to accomplish on EndNote further down the page.

If you are using a Mac, there is also an introduction to EndNote video for Mac users.

Getting started

If you want to use the web version of EndNote, you will need to go to and sign up for an account (this is separate to your UEA account so register with whichever details suit you). If you prefer to use the desktop version of EndNote, it is available on all campus PCs. If you can’t find it on a PC when you sit down to start working, you may need to install it from the UEA Application Catalogue – there is guidance on how to do this on the UEA Application Catalogue help sheet.

Adding references to EndNote

There are different methods for capturing references and placing them in EndNote. The main – and easiest – is to directly export citations from databases to EndNote. Each database does this slightly different but I have included videos demonstrating how to do this on the some of the main platforms you will come across. Even if you work on a database not listed here, you will find that the options to export are very similar everywhere.

If you can’t find a reference in a database, you may have to manually add it to EndNote. This shouldn’t happen too often, but when it does, the following video will show you how to do this.

Adding a citation / bibliography to a word document

The other main thing you will want to do with EndNote is reference resources stored in your library in essays you are writing. Campus PCs have a special add-in installed on Microsoft Word (also freely available from the EndNote website), which makes this super easy. The following video will show you how to do this.

You can also change the style, spacing, etc. of the references in your document.

That certainly makes referencing in your essays easier but there’s one final trick I’d like to show you: sharing your EndNote library with others.

Sharing your EndNote library

There will be times when you are working on a project collaboratively and want to have a shared pool of resources that everyone in the group can access (whether this be to apply inclusion/exclusion criteria, or simply to read). When this is the case, EndNote handily allows you to share the contents of your library with other EndNote users and here’s how:

There is more that EndNote can do but this will get you started and don’t forget, if you to learn more there are a range of guides on the EndNote help pages.

EndNote can seem a bit overwhelming when you first load it up, but it won’t take too long to get the hang of and will save you oodles of time when referencing while you are here.