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Citation Management Tools: Mendeley

What is Mendeley?

Mendeley is a freely available web-based reference manager that can also be used offline and allows you to save, organize, and share sources you find during your research. Mendeley allows users to upload documents and add annotations or notes. Mendeley is able to pull bibliographic information from saved sources uploaded to your account and automatically formats in-text citations and bibliographies.

Tutorials & Other Helpful Guides

Mendeley Support Center

-  Mendeley Help Guides

Install & Register

First, go to and create an account using any email address. Next, download the browser extension,  Mendeley Web Importer, on the Mendeley website and select your browser of choice (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer). 

Next, download the Mendeley Desktop application for use on your own computer, which can be downloaded here (available for Windows 7+, Mac OS, and Linux).

Once you have finished downloading the Desktop application it will ask you to log in. Use the account information you chose when setting up your Mendeley account. Your Mendeley library will automatically sync when you add references or make changes in the desktop or web extension.

For Citations

Mendeley Cite, the new citation add-in for Microsoft Word, takes the time out of referencing. Mendeley Cite is compatible with Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Word versions 2016 and above and with the Microsoft Word app for iPad®. If you are using an earlier version of Word, you can use the existing Mendeley Citation Plugin for Word available with Mendeley Desktop. Find out more here.

Add Sources from a Website

While browsing web pages, you can save references to your library directly from the page of the database you're browsing. Just click the toolbar button  as you come across a paper you'd like to save. The web extension will display a reference that it can import from the web page you are viewing. Click "Add to Mendeley" and the reference is added to your library! 

Drag & Drop

If you’ve got a loose collection of PDFs that you’d like to quickly add to Mendeley, you could add them to your Mendeley Library. All you have to do is drop PDFs in the library and Mendeley will import them automatically. 

Manually create an entry

Use the manual entry option to create library entries when you don't have the PDF.

Select the 'Add entry manually’ option in the '+ Add new' menu to manually input the details of a reference. Select the appropriate document type and complete the fields to create a library entry.

Tip: You can use a DOI to look up the details of a reference.

The File Menu

Another way to add files is to simply use the file menu option to select the file or folder containing your documents. Once you’ve specified the file or folder, Mendeley will go to work importing your selection while you work.

Use information exported from another program

XML, RIS, and BibTeX are common formats used to export reference information, such as Zotero. Mendeley can import these formats and some others, so wherever you’re getting your reference lists from, Mendeley can handle it. Using that same "Add New" button, Mendeley can import these formats. Mendeley will sync files from Zotero, but Zotero will not sync files from Mendeley.

Add directly from the Mendeley Research Catalog

Why spend time searching other research catalogs for the paper if you’re importing it into Mendeley? The Mendeley research catalog is now one of the world’s largest open databases of research, with nearly 80M papers indexed. Chances are, you can find the paper you’re looking for on Mendeley and add it to your library with one click.

Organize your References 


Collections, or folders, offer a way to quickly filter your view of your library. Unlike folders on your computer, adding a reference to a folder in Mendeley does not relocate the reference itself – but instead acts as a sort of label for that reference. This means that the same reference can be added to multiple folders as required, and folders can be deleted when no longer required without any effect on the references within.

To create a new Collection, you can right-click on the words "New Collection" in the left panel of Mendeley Desktop and give your folder a name. Once done, hit "Enter" on your keypad. These folders can be renamed at any point by clicking on the three dots to the left of the title to reveal editing options.


To create a subfolder, click on the three dots of an existing folder to reveal the actions menu. This menu will show a "New Collection" option. By clicking this you will create a new ‘child’ folder within the ‘parent’. Use the arrow that appears next to the parent folder to expand and collapse the list of children.

Add References to Collections

To add a reference to a folder, select it in the main panel, click, and drag it onto the folder where it appears in the left panel. You can also add multiple papers at the same time.

Use search to retrieve references

Mendeley offers a search tool that allows you to easily retrieve your references. Enter a search term in the field and Mendeley will return the appropriate results. Mendeley searches document details - including the Annotation's ‘General notes’ field, as well as within the body text of PDF papers in your library. 

Mendeley's search tool is context-specific. If you’re viewing a particular folder, Mendeley will only search items within that folder. You can use this to quickly pinpoint specific resources. To search your entire library, ensure that you are in the "All References" tab on the left panel.

Tags and filtering

Tags allow you to apply quick text labels to references in order to easily group them. Add tags to the field found in the document details panel under "Info".

Retrieve tagged items using the Filter menu that appears in the top right corner of the Mendeley library. Choose "Filter by My Tags" at the top of the box, and select the desired tag.

Similar to the Search feature, the filter menu is context-specific. Only tags used within the current view will be available to select. Make sure "All References" is selected in order to select from the full list of tags.

You can also use the Filter menu to filter by author name.


Microsoft Word Extension

Can't find your Mendeley Cite add-in after you install it? Look under "Insert" then "Get Add-ins."

Here, you will search for Mendeley Cite in the Office store. Once you select "Add," you will accept their terms and conditions and select "Get Started." This button will send you to the log in page, you will log in with the account information you previously set up.

Once that is done, the Mendeley Cite button will appear in the References ribbon. Once selected, a Mendeley Cite window will open to the right.

Inserting Citations

Search for a citation in All References or a specific collection. Check the box next to the item you want to cite and click the "Insert citation" button at the bottom of the box. Select the citation style from the Citation Settings tab in the Mendeley Cite box.

Bluebook Styles

Mendeley offers Bluebook styles for citations, however, to be able to utilize it you must first add the style to the citation options. Select "citation settings" on the right-side panel and then "change citation style."

You will see, the Bluebook style is not listed on the pre-downloaded citations. Select "search for another style," which will allow you to type in "Bluebook" into the search bar and locate your two options. Currently, Mendeley does not have the ability to add a footnote to a word document, therefore you must select Bluebook Inline which will insert the citation directly into the page wherever you choose. 

To create a bibliography from citations in your Library that are not in a paper, right-click on the citation in Reference Manager and select "Copy Formatted Citation" and paste the citation into the document. As of now, this only works with one citation at a time.

Insert a Bibliography

Once you’ve inserted all the citations you require, you can use the Mendeley plugin to automatically create a bibliography of all the materials you’ve cited. Position the cursor where you want the bibliography to appear, click the "More" dropdown menu, and select "Insert Bibliography." Depending on the number of citations in the document, this process may take a few seconds to complete. 

Mendeley will create an index of all the materials you’ve referenced and style the list according to the Citation Style you have active.

Your bibliography will also reorder and restructure itself every time you add an additional citation - there's no need to completely rebuild it. Mendeley will also automatically renumber the items if you insert a new citation earlier in the document.

Exporting References

You can export your library from Mendeley Reference Manager.

  1. In Mendeley Reference Manager use the 'Export All' option found in the File menu and select from BibTeX, EndNote XML or RIS file formats.

  2. Select the location on your computer, name the export file then select save.

The export function is currently not available on Mendeley Reference Manager web.

Read, highlight & annotate

A reference with an attached PDF will display a small PDF icon next to its listing in Mendeley. Either click on the PDF icon titled "Read," or click on the PDF title under "Files," to open Mendeley's PDF Reader.

Simply by highlighting text within the PDF, you will be prompted with a small menu asking to "Highlight." The highlight tool will apply whichever color is currently set as active. Once highlighted, left-click on the text to change the color, add it to your notebook, or delete the annotation.

In the top right-hand corner, you can switch between the Select tool to the Highlighter tool, change the Highlighter shade and add notes. Using the dropdown menu that appears next to the highlighter tool to switch between text-based highlighting and rectangle-based highlighting. The latter can be useful for images, graphs, charts, or large sections of text.


When you select "Add to Notebook," Mendeley will add the highlighted text to your Notebook where you can include descriptive text or notes with it. You can add all highlights to the same notebook or create new ones as you work through the PDF. 

Sticky Notes

If you right-click on the highlighted text, you will be prompted on whether you want to make it a Sticky Note.

By making it a Sticky Note, you can add an annotation to the quote that will appear in your right-side panel under the Annotations tab. 

You can use rich-text formatting to apply bold, italics and underlining for emphasis. Note that the contents of "General notes" will also be returned in search results.


Each document you open for reading will receive its own tab. You can switch back and forth between documents by clicking on each. Return to the browsing view by closing the document tabs, or by clicking on the "My Library" tab that appears.

Share Papers with Groups

Create a group online or using the “Create Group…” button in the left panel. You can add papers to groups via your online Mendeley account or in Mendeley Desktop. You can invite people to your group via email. Everyone in your group can see the citations, attached PDFs, and annotations that were created in Mendeley.

Reference Appointments

The Taggart Law Library is here to help! Schedule an appointment with a librarian or chat with us using our online chat feature. Open to ONU Law students, faculty, staff, and alumni.