Scripting EndNote

I need to export references into BibTex, but EndNote does not create citation keys and BibTex will add random letters to a key so that keys are unique. That random nature leads me to believe that a future move of references from EndNote to BibTex will leave orphaned citations in older documents.  While it is possible to use EndNote’s Record Number as a citation key by modifying the Export template, that does not lead to human readable citation keys.

I attempted to use AppleScript, based on Endnotes documented examples. I just wanted to read the unformatted record, parse out the author name, year, and record number, create a string like Armstrong_1969_1, and place it in the label field. The Name_Year_RecNum combination will always be the same as long I always start from the same EndNote database.  I attempted various incantations but kept running into error (-1728) indicating that AppleScript could not get the variable from EndNote and into a local variable. EndNote support didn’t have an answer but forwarded my inquiry to the development team.

After some Googling I found Appscript  on Sourceforge as a Python package and installed it. Appscript is no longer supported but was worth a try. I also found ASTranslate on Sourceforge that took my AppleScript code and returned code that Appscript needed. This was EXTREMELY helpful.

Here is a Python script that does what I described above. I hope others find it useful. And if someone wants to show me the magic for using AppleScript with EndNote, I can move this back to AppleScript.

Use at your own risk. I had to add spaces to make the code a little more readable in this blog. Be careful, Python is VERY sensitive to indentation.

Python script to read the ‘unformatted record’ in EndNote and create

a citation key for EndNotes Label field.

The citation keys are unique since EndNotes record field is used.

The ciation keys are ready for import by BibTex

Bill Seufzer, Ph.D. NASA Langley Research Center

bill dot seufzer at nasa dot gov

March 2013

from appscript import *
import unicodedata

en = app(‘Endnote X6’)

retrieve the list of ‘shown’ references

if a group is selected, that is the shown list of records

theListOfRefs = en.retrieve(u’shown’, records_in=en.documents[1])

for aRef in theListOfRefs:
   # get the unformatted record
   unf_rec = en.unformatted_record(aRef)
   # unf_rec will look like {Armstrong, 1969 #1}
   # find the positions of the comma, #, and the }
   #remove any spaces from the authors name and replace with ‘_’
   # BibTex does not like spaces in the citation key
   spaces=author.count(’ ‘)
   if spaces > 0:
      author=author.replace(’ ‘,’_’)
   if len(author) == 0:
   if len(year) == 0:

   # assemble the citation key
   cite_key = author + ‘_’ + year + ‘_’ + rec_num
   # this flattens the citation key into ascii
   cite_key = unicodedata.normalize(‘NFKD’,cite_key).encode(‘ascii’,‘ignore’)
   # put the cite key into EndNote Label field
  en.set_field(‘Label’,to=cite_key, of_record=aRef)

I combed the internet for a long time trying to get answers about how to use Apple Scripts with Endnote.  I finally figured out how to get some group information out Endnote with Apple Scripts. I figured I would tack it on here for anyone who comes across this.

I walk through the script at: