What’s Desktop EndNote? EndNote Web? Online EndNote? EndNote Basic? – I’m Confused!

Let’s begin by saying that there are currently two major versions of EndNote: desktop EndNote and online EndNote. The EndNote desktop software stores the program and your citation library locally on your computer. Online EndNote accounts store your citation collection on servers at Thomson Reuters, so you can log onto the web and access the account from anywhere.

Initially the only version of EndNote available was the one you installed on your desktop or laptop computer. In December 2006 the EndNote folks launched a web-based version of EndNote. This was a simplified stripped-down version and was not designed to replace the more comprehensive desktop application.  However, EndNote and EndNote Web could exchange citations, so it was possible to  work with your citations in EndNote Web off-campus, later moving them into desktop EndNote. The citations were stored on the web so you could access them wherever you were, either on or off campus.






In 2013 EndNote Web became EndNote Basic, and was made available as a free web-based application. Though allowing you to create bibliographies in MS Word, Basic is still a stripped down version of the desktop software, offering, for example, only 20 of the most popular bibliographic styles.

To make matters a little more confusing there are now three types of online EndNote account: one is linked to the EndNote desktop program; another is associated with a Web of Knowledge/Science site  and the third is the free Basic account which is not associated with either of these. So campuses such as UCSF which subscribe to Web of Science/Knowledge have access to a version of EndNote Basic that has considerably more features than the generic Basic. The following two articles summarize the difference between these versions:

  • EndNote Online from the Adept Scientific website.
  • EndNote comparison on the EndNote website: note that UCSF users should check WEB OF KNOWLEDGE to see which features are available and go to the Web of Science site to create an account.


About David

David is the Education & Information Consultant, Basic Sciences
This entry was posted in Citation management, Publishing, Research, Software, Tools & Technology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What’s Desktop EndNote? EndNote Web? Online EndNote? EndNote Basic? – I’m Confused!

  1. Teresa says:


    Thanks for this cogent write-up of the evolution of Endnote and the current “three types of online EndNote account”. I think your blog post saved my sanity today.

    Would you happen to know whether the “one [that] is linked to the EndNote desktop program” is exactly the same as the desktop program in terms of advanced functions and features? Or is this account essentially the same as one of the other two (either the WoS subscriber type or the Basic) in features except that it is cross-functional with the desktop application?

Leave a Reply