Nerding it up: referencing the easy way

oatsandsugar —  August 15, 2010 — 8 Comments

My first piece of advice when writing an assignment: reference as you write.  When you quote, when you use a case as authority, whenever it is appropriate to reference, do it.  Don’t just write and leave referencing to the end, you’ll lose the cases, pages, paragraphs etc. that you need to properly pin-point reference. Do it as you go.

To keep on top of all of my references, I use EndNote: available for free for UTS students from the library website.


A lot of people can’t stand EndNote. I can’t do law without it!  It keeps the lecturers honest — they can’t deduct marks off you for referencing if you use the referencing program they prescribe, properly.

It is a little fiddly.  It is a bit hard to get used to.  Once you start to get used to it, once you figure out the ways to use it efficiently, once you start populating your reference library, it becomes essential and literally saves hours of bibliography writing, footnote editing, etc.

Installing EndNote for beginners:

I’m not going to write too much on installing EndNote; the UTS Library website does a brilliant job at walking you through the steps.  Just remember to follow all the steps:

  1. Download and install the program itself.  The library talks you through this process.
  2. Tweak it to output legal-style (AGLC) referencing.  This involves (a) installing the legal reference types, (b) downloading and installing the AGLC plug-in/style and (c) setting (AGLC-UTS) as the output type.  These steps are outlined on the library site but may be a bit fiddly.

Now you have EndNote!

So now I have EndNote, what do I do with it?

The basic premise of EndNote is that references are fiddly, and that they are meant to be informative, complementing your assignment, and not blocking creativity by taking up so much time.  So instead of writing and re-writing references, instead of wondering whether to “ibid.” you just fill out the requisite fields in the right reference type on EndNote, and then use the word plug-in to insert it without bother.

Creating a new reference:

Here’s a few tricks in filling out the reference fields:

  • A few legal databases and library sites can auto-magically export reference files, so you don’t need to type them up at all!
  • Always fill in the “reference type” field to allow EndNote to automatically order the bibliography: first by reference type and then alphabetically.
  • In the description field, I like to copy/paste the FirstPoint headnote, this jogs my memory of what the case is all about later in the semester when I’ve already forgotten.
  • If you can be bothered, attach a PDF file of the case, it will save some effort later in the semester.
  • Tags make cases easy to search for.
  • Organise your references in folders, by subject and assignment, for easy categorisation.

The more information you put into EndNote, the easier it will be to use.

Inserting references:

Wherever you need to insert a reference, first, select the reference in EndNote.

Here, I have selected Ryan v The Queen, notice that the preview shows you how the reference will look in Word.

Then, in Word, insert a footnote [References > Footnotes > Insert Footnote].

A footnote will now appear at the bottom of the page.  Now you need to insert the EndNote citation [EndNote X3 >Citations > Insert Citations > Insert Selected Citations].  This will insert the citation you have selected in EndNote.

You are done!  To add more than one reference in a single citation is easy: just select more than one reference in EndNote (using ctrl+click or shift+click): as below.

Pinpoint referencing:

Law requires pinpoint referencing, but the above method only refers to a case/article/book/etc.  To pinpoint reference properly, right-click on the footnote and select [edit citations > more].  This will pop up a window.  Fill in the “pages” field with “p#”, “s#”, “ss#A” or “[#]” depending on whether you are referencing a page, section, subsection or paragraph, respectively.  Then hit “OK” and you are good!

This is how the reference will look:

Creating a bibliography:

You’ve noticed that as you’ve referenced in Word, using EndNote, a list of references is populating below.  This is your bibliography!  If you followed the steps above, it will automatically be organised according to reference type and alphabetically (just by the way, I like to add a page-break above the bibliography [shift+enter] to keep it neat and away from body-text).

When you have finished editing your work (it is important to only do this at the end, since the references will no longer be dynamic after this step) you’ll need to flatten your references so you can edit this bibliography [EndNote > Bibliography > Convert Citations and Bibliography > Convert to Plain Text].  It will then prompt you to save a new copy: do so.

Then you can start editing your references if required, and playing with your bibliography by inserting headings for reference types, etc.

After this step, your document is done!

The next step: EndNote intermediate

When you install EndNote, the process to add a reference to a word document is quite messy — you have to change to the reference screen, insert a footnote, go to the EndNote window, which is open separately, select or create the reference you need, and then insert it.  I propose that this is ridiculous and should be easier.

Here’s how I solved this problem.

You know that little strip of icons next to the office button at the top left of the screen in Word ’07?  Hmm, maybe I should just show you.

The quick-access tool-bar full of random useless buttons/shortcuts, until we finish with it!

When you buy word and run it for the first time, this tool-bar is relatively useless, filled with commonly known tools (copy [ctrl+c], paste [ctrl+v], undo [ctrl+z], redo [ctrl+y] and save [ctrl+s]).  This is a waste!  Every command that you put into the Quick Access Toolbar creates a shortcut: [alt+#], where # is the position of the shortcut.  In the image above, the “save” function would have been assigned the short-cut [alt+2].  Here’s an idea, let’s create shortcuts to make the process described above for using EndNote in Word a bit easier!

The first step will be to clear your current Quick Access Toolbar.  To do this, right-click on each icon displayed and delete it [right-click > Remove From Quick Access Toolbar].  To add an icon to your toolbar, right-click and select “Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

Mine is set up like so:

[alt+1] Insert Footnote

[alt+2] Insert Selected Citation(s)

[alt+3] Update Citations and Bibliography

[alt+4] Paste Special (this I use to paste unformatted text, etc.)

Now, instead of following the steps above, to insert a citation I (1) select it in EndNote, (2) hit [alt+1] to insert a footnote, [2] hit [alt+2] to insert the citation and I’m done!  If I edited the citations within EndNote and I need to update them in word, I just hit [alt+3].  It’s a really easy way to use EndNote, and if you add the item “Find Citation” instead of “Insert Selected Citation” you never have to leave Word at all.

You can use the Quick Access Toolbar to create easy custom shortcuts within word for whatever feature you want within reach, I find it really makes sailing through EndNote a breeze.

ProTip: use two screens!

If you have a spare monitor running around, use it! It really makes EndNote easy as pie to use.  Have EndNote open on the smaller screen and Word open on the main screen: instead of flipping between the two windows, you have your document and your references side-by-side.

If you only have one screen but its a big one, go half-and-half; same effect.

NB: if you are using EndNote for Business, change the output style to “Harvard Referencing” and not to “UTS_AGLC”, you can still use the program and all of its features and reference in-line, as required.




LLM candidate at Cornell Tech. Consultant for King & Wood Mallesons and Project Evangelist for Legalese.

8 responses to Nerding it up: referencing the easy way


    Anya asks: hmmm question for you to ponder over.. I need “[ ]” brackets instead of “( )” ones…HOW???

    This one’s easy, if you have installed the correct reference type tables and are using the AGLC_UTS style, simply enter the date into the “Year – Round Brackets” field for round brackets and “Year – Square Brackets” for square.

    If they aren’t both there, check you’ve installed the reference type table correctly.


    “A few legal databases and library sites can auto-magically export reference files, so you don’t need to type them up at all!”

    which ones?? I’m trying to find them, unsuccessfully…


    Which fields should you normally have to fill out? thanks

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Referencing Like a Ninja | Survive Law - August 25, 2010

    […] This post originally appeared here. […]

  2. My Tips For Assessment Questions | exlocuslaw - April 14, 2012

    […] over at interesting blog Oats and Sugar has a very good guide on getting EndNote up and running. You can check out his guide here. While you’re there be sure to check out his photo’s from his […]

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