Mendeley Basics

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Set Up Mendeley

  1. Create your free Mendeley account profile .
    • Doing this will let you sync your personal library to any device, access your library online, and participate in groups.
  2. Download and install the Mendeley Reference Manager .
    • This will allow you to search and organize your personal library, add annotations to bibliographies, and cite as you write.
  3. Install the Mendeley Citation Plugin.
    • This plug-in will allow you to cite as you write and is compatible with Microsoft Word and LibreOffice.
  4. Read more about using the citation plugin .
  5. Install the Mendeley Web Importer (Browser Extension).
    • This will allow you to import online content from the web and academic databases into your Mendeley Library. This feature is compatible with all major web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE, etc.). For more information about the installation process, view the Mendeley Help guides .


  1. The Mendeley Mobile App for iOS or Android
    • This will allow you to read papers, add content, annotate bibliographies, and organize your library from your mobile device.

Add Items

Import Citations from a Website

  1. Open the Mendeley app on your computer before searching the web.
  2. Search a database (e.g. LibCat, Academic Search Complete) or website (e.g. Ulukau).
  3. Click on the Mendeley extension icon located under your web browser address bar.
  4. Click on the icon to add a citation, resource, or web page to your Mendeley library.
    • If there is more than one citation on a page, all of the citations will be displayed in a pop-up box. Check the items you want to save and click "OK."
  5. A pop-up box will appear at the bottom of the page to let you know your items have been saved to Mendeley.

Import PDFs from Your Computer

PDFs (and other files) can be dragged directly from your computer to your Mendeley library.

  1. Open Mendeley and click on a Mendeley folder.
  2. Drag and drop a .PDF into the middle pane.
  3. Right-click on it and select "Retrieve metadata for PDF." This will generate a citation for the document.

Manually Add an Item

  1. Click on the "Add Files" icon Add Files icon in the Mendeley app.
  2. Choose the type of item, then enter the bibliographic information.

Move Citations from RefWorks to Mendeley

Mendeley does not maintain the same folder structure as in RefWorks. In order to keep the same organizational structure of your personal library, you can create new folders (collections) in Mendeley with the same names as the folders in RefWorks. It is also advised to export one folder at a time when recreating your organizational structure in Mendeley. Read more about how to create new folders (collections) in Mendeley .

  1. Log into RefWorks and select either: "All References," "My List," or a specific folder that you want to export into Mendeley.
  2. In the RefWorks drop down menu, either select "References" -- "Export" OR the "Export" link in the Quick Access side menu.
  3. A pop-up box will appear. Select the Export Format: "Bibliographic Software" and click on "Export."
  4. A browser window will appear with the references in tagged format. Right click in the browser window and choose "Save page as." Save the item to your desktop as a text file (.txt) and name it after your folder in RefWorks. If the browser window does not appear, make sure that pop-ups are not blocked on your device.
    • Repeat steps 1-4 for all folders that you want to move into Mendeley.
  5. Open Mendeley. Click on the folder that you want to import your citations to, then click on the "Add Files" button in the toolbar.
  6. This will prompt you to browse for the saved .txt file on your device. Select the file that you want to import and click "Open." This will import the file directly into your Mendeley library under the .txt file name.
    • Repeat steps 5 and 6 for all .txt files that you want to move into Mendeley.
  7. If you need to create a new collection in Mendeley, click on the Folder icon Add Collection icon and name the collection folder as needed. You can then drag and drop items into the new collection.

Organize Library

Organize by Collections

You can create collections (folders) to organize specific, well-defined categories within your library. Note that items can be assigned to multiple categories, and that doing so does not duplicate the item. For more information about creating and organizing collections, view the Mendeley Organizing Documents page .

Create a Collection

  • Click the "Create New Folder" button in the main toolbar or right-click anywhere in the left panel of the Mendeley Desktop and select 'New Folder' or click on the 'Create New Folder' button located under 'My Library' in the left panel.
  • Name your new collection folder.
  • The new collection will appear as a folder inside "My Collection."
  • Sub-collections can be created by dragging and dropping one collection into another or by right-clicking an existing collection and choosing "New Subcollection."

Add Items To a Collection

  • New items are automatically added into the selected / active / displayed collection.
  • Drag and drop existing items into your library collection folder. By default, the items will be added to the new collection but won't be removed from the original location.


Like hashtags, Mendeley tags allow you to add helpful descriptors to your items. In addition to adding content-related keywords, also consider adding status / action keywords (e.g. "Read Later," "Cited in Mythology Paper"). For more information about tags, view the Mendeley Organizing Documents page .

Add Tags

  • You can add, edit, or delete tags for one or more items in the "Details" tab located to the left of the screen. Make sure to use a semicolon ';' to separate different tags.
  • Single item tagging: Select the item in your library that you want to add tags to and click on the "Details" tab to input your tags.
  • Bulk tagging: Select all of the items in your library that you want to add tags to by holding down ctrl or shift on your keyboard. Click on the "Details" tab to input your tags.

Filter by Tags

  • The "Filter by my tags" option is located in the lower panel of the left column.
  • It shows all the tags that have been attached to the items currently shown in the center column.
  • By selecting one or more tags in the "Filter by my tags" option, only the items that have been assigned those tags will display in the center column.
  • Tap the multi-color button and select "Display All Tags in This Library" to show all tags in your library.

Tags on Mendeley Web

  • You can browse all papers that are assigned a specific tag.
  • You can see groups or people that are associated with a specific tag.

Create Citations and Bibliographies

Creating Citations

  1. Make sure you have the Citation plug-in installed in Word. See installation instructions here .
  2. Open Microsoft Word and type your paper.
  3. Click on the "References" tab in Word to find the Mendeley Word plug-in toolbar and choose your citation format.
  4. Click on the area of your paper that you want to insert a citation to, then click on the "Insert Citation" icon in the Mendeley Word plug-in toolbar.
  5. You will be prompted to search for and select an item in your Library that you want to cite in your Word document.
  6. Select a citation and click "OK." The citation will be inserted. Once the citation is inserted into Word, the "Insert Citation" icon will change to an "Edit Citation" icon that you can use to make changes to the citation.

If you are sending your paper to someone else, consider removing the codes. Mendeley inserts codes into Word so the citations can be updated and refreshed. The codes can be removed if you want to share your document with someone who is not using Mendeley by clicking on "Export as" in the Mendeley Word plug-in toolbar and selecting "Without Mendeley Fields."

Creating Bibliographies

  1. When you're ready to create a bibliography in your Word document, move your cursor to where you want to insert it, then click the "Insert Bibliography" icon located in the Mendeley Word plug-in toolbar.
  2. To remove a document from the bibliography, select it, delete it, and select Refresh in the Mendeley Word plug-in toolbar. All references to it will also be deleted.

Note: You can drag and drop a reference into any text editor (Word, email, blog) to insert a full bibliographic entry.

Read more about using Mendeley to create a bibliography in Word .

Collaborate with Others

To Make a Group

In Mendeley, select Create Group from the left menu under the Groups section.

Watch video on creating and using Groups in Mendeley.

Types of Groups

  • Private Groups - A private collaboration among members without a public presence on the Mendeley website. Only group members are able to see the group's site. Joining the group is by invitation only.
  • Public (Closed Membership) Groups - Joining the group is by invitation only, however non-members can still follow the group, participate in discussions, and access materials that are shared within the group. The group bibliography is viewable by non-members, but they cannot add new references.
  • Public (Open Membership) Groups - Anyone can join and view the group's library, as well as add new references.

Types of Group Members

  • Group owner - Change group public / private status, control access by members, change group settings, and delete / transfer ownership of a group.
  • Administrator - Change group public / private status, control access by members, change group settings.
  • Members - Edit group library according to access level given by administrator or owner.

Helpful Video Tutorials

List Mendeley Video Tutorials Includes video tutorials developed by Mendeley that explain the general features of the program.

This video shows users how to import documents to Mendeley from the desktop, other reference managers, and the web.

Discussion & Forums

Need Additional Help?

Resolve your issue by using the online Mendeley Support Center .