How to obtain, set up, and use Mendeley to manage citations

Largely adapted (with thanks!) from University of Western Australia, Mendeley Guide

In this Guide:

Mendeley is citation management software.
Creating an account will give you access to both the web version and the desktop version.

How to get started:  
  • Sign up for an online account  CLICK:  Create Free Account
  • Then install the desktop download
  • Sign in

For an overview, watch:  Getting Started with Mendeley    (5:38 minutes)

Options for getting references into the Desktop and Web versions of Mendeley are below.

Mendeley Desktop  Five ways of adding references
1. Manually: Type in from the keyboard
2. Generate References From PDFs

Drag individual PDFs in to Mendeley workspace:  See instructions below.  If PDFs contain the necessary metadata, Mendeley will create citations for the articles.

ADD button  (upper left toolbar):

ADD FILES:  Add individual or multiple PDFs
ADD FOLDER: Add entire folder of PDFs
WATCH FOLDER:  Any PDFs you add to this folder will be automatically added to Mendeley

3. Import Records from Article Databases:

Web of Science
Google Scholar

4.  Import From Other Software (Endnote, Papers, Zotero, Refworks, etc.)

Use the Export option within the other software to extract your references to RIS, BibTeX, or EndNote XML file format.
In Mendeley Desktop:  Click File >> ‘Import’ and select the exported file to add its contents to your Mendeley library.


5.  Sync Records from Mendeley Web

Mendeley Web  Four ways of adding references
1. Manually: Type in from the keyboard
2. Add PDF documents and automatically generate references
3. Use the Mendeley Web Importer

First: Install the Mendeley Web Importer:
Second: From a webpage listing references, click the Mendeley Web Importer in your tool bar

4. Sync records from Mendeley Desktop

Overview on Using Mendeley with Word


Install the Word Plugin to use Mendeley with Word (available for Mac and PC).

  • First make sure that all instances of any Microsoft applications are closed.
  • Open Mendeley Desktop and click on Tools, Install MS Word Plugin.


Adding Citations to a Word Document:   (windows, see above for Mac)

  • Open your Word document and click on the References tab in the ribbon. Notice that the
  • Insert Citation icon now has a Mendeley logo superimposed.
  • Position your cursor in your document at the place where a citation is required and click on
  • Insert Citation. From the search box select your reference.


Creating a Bibliography

  • After all citations are added
  • Position your cursor where you want the bibliography to appear, check your citation style and
  • click Insert Bibliography to create a bibliography.


Editing Citations to a Word Document:   Word   Mac

  • Only minimal editing of citation is possible in Mendeley.

Citation Styles:  Selecting & Adding

When you install Mendeley, a small number of citation styles are included.
  • A citation style is a format for displaying citations
  • There are hundreds (possibly thousands) to choose from (most journals have their own specific citation format).
  • More are easily available through Mendeley, additional styles can be downloaded through GitHub.


To Select a Citation Style (from those already imported)



Importing a New Citation Style into Mendeley
  • Click on View >> Citation Style >> More Styles
  • Click on the Get More Styles tab
  • Enter the style, journal name, or publisher to find what you need
  • From the results, click on the style you want and click INSTALL


Additional Citation Styles

Mendeley supports over 6,000 different referencing styles.  You can:

Download available styles from GitHub

Use Citation Style Language (CSL) to create/edit styles:

Mendeley CSL

Citation Style Language


Some citation formats use abbreviated journal titles rather than the full journal title.

  • Mendeley uses the “Journal Abbreviations” list to substitute abbreviated journal titles for full journal titles.
  • The list of journal abbreviations in Mendeley is limited, and cannot be easily edited in Mendeley.



Importing a Journal Title Abbreviation List:
  • You can import an abbreviation list file into your Mendeley library.
  • Mendeley abbreviation files must be text files in the format:
    • journal name <tab character> abbreviation
    • with each journal title on a new line
  • See further instructions below.


You can export a list from Endnote, or use other available lists.


Adding Journal Abbreviations to Mendeley
  • Download one of the lists above or a list from another source
  • Copy the list into the folder (make a backup copy of the existing Mendeley list before you replace it)
    • Windows PC:
      C:\Program Files\Mendeley Desktop\publicationAbbreviations
    • Mac: 
      Applications/Mendeley Desktop/Contents/Resources/publicationAbbreviations
  • The new abbreviation list will appear when you next open Mendeley Desktop


Mendeley provides three tools to help you manage your references:

Search – will help you locate references in your library

Folders – groups references into logical groups.  These may be permanent or just used temporarily for a particular task

Backup – makes a copy of your library in a single compressed file which can be stored on another device or the cloud

The Groups function allows you to:
  • Create and curate groups
  • Control who can join and add materials to your group
  • Use private groups to collaborate and share papers
  • Join existing groups on subject of interest
  • Discover new research and potential collaborators in your field from around the world

For more info, see:



For help using Mendeley, see the guides below:

Mendeley Guide:  University of Western Australia Library

Mendeley Guide:  University of Michigan

Mendeley Guide: Macquarie University Library

Mendeley Guide:  Oxford University, Bodleian Library


Mendeley Help:

Mendeley Support

Desktop Help Online Guides

Mendeley Web Version

Mendeley Blog



@MendeleySupport       08:00-21:00 UK time


Guide Background:

2017-2020: developed, updated, used by C. Craig to teach Mendeley