Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Reference Management Tools: Mendeley

Reference Manager – Mendeley

Mendeley can help you be more organized with and format your references. It is not perfect. When dragging in a PDF, sometimes the data is wrong and the information needs edited. Sometimes the Save to Mendeley button cannot detect information like title, author, etc. However if you use the tips below, this can make Mendeley the time saver that it is meant to be.

Getting Started with Mendeley

Mendeley is freely available to everyone. To get started,

  1. Setup a free account at the Mendeley opens new window Web site
  2. Download and install Mendeley Desktop. You will be prompted after creating a user account
  3. Know how to get references into your database
  4. You still need to know your bibliographic style. Citation Style Help on this Guide.
  5. Know how to install and use the Mendeley Plug-ins. Go to Mendeley Plug-ins on this Webpage
    • for Microsoft Word
    • for LibreOffice

Keeping Organized

Keep your references organized by using folders or tags. Use the method you like best. You can make notations in the PDFs in Mendeley Desktop, but the notations in the PDF aren't searchable. The full text of the PDFs are searchable as long as the PDF is not an image.

Use optical character recognition (OCR) software on PDFs that are images. Of course, the resulting PDF will not be perfect. If there is no PDF available, use the notes field in Mendeley.

These tips might help you when you start writing the document.

Mendeley Plug-in

Mendeley has an plug-in that you can use with Microsoft Word and another you can use with LibreOffice. A great advantage is that Mendeley Desktop and the plug-ins are cross-platform. Go to a definition for cross-platform. opens new window

It cannot be guaranteed that this is true for every operating system and every version of Word and LibreOffice. However, it works very well on recent versions of the Mac and Microsoft Word, Ubuntu and LibreOffice, and Windows with Microsoft Word.

Download the plug-in by selecting Tools from the Mendeley Desktop main menu. The software will detect what is installed on your computer. If it is already installed, it will read Uninstall instead of Install.

Formatted in-text references can be inserted using this plug-in. A reference section will be generated at the end of your document as well.

Mendeley Web Importer

Sometimes you don't have a PDF and you want to add an article, book, or another document in Mendeley. Other times, pulling in a PDF works very poorly and the digital object identifier (DOI) button in Mendeley Desktop does not help or actually makes matters worse. It is good to try the Mendeley Web Importer in these cases.

Install the Mendeley Web Importer in your favorite browser. First, select Tools from the Mendeley Desktop menu, then Install Web Importer. The Web page provides instructions about installing.

When using this button, it is likely that you will need to edit some fields in Mendeley. If many fields are missing and there is a DOI, you might be able to use the lookup button beside the DOI field to fill in some additional information. Keep in mind the lookup button does not always help. There are times that it pulls completely incorrect information.

Sometimes the Mendeley Web Importer can't find any bibliographic information. When this happens, you might need to import a RIS file if you can. Otherwise, you might be forced to manually enter the information.

Be Sure to Double Check

Always double check your references for format and accuracy. Sometimes there are import errors or there could be an error in the style definition. Accuracy is important because you want your readers to be able to read what you read...They cannot read it if they cannot find it.

How do I get Articles from EBSCO Databases in Mendeley?

Citations can be exported into Mendeley by using the Mendeley Web Importer. Find out about installing and using the Mendeley Web Importer.

Examples of databases that use the EBSCO interface are:

How do I get Articles from Proquest in Mendeley?

Citations can be exported into Mendeley by using the Mendeley Web Importer from the detailed screen for the document. Find out about installing and using the Mendeley Web Importer.

Example databases that use the Proquest interface are:

How do I get Books in Mendeley?

Sometimes the Mendeley Web Importer will work in the library's catalog and sometimes it won't. When it doesn't work, you can enter the book manually, use ZipSearch (Go to How to I get Articles from EBSCO Databases in Mendeley on this webpage), or find the book at the publisher website, such as

If there is not an ISBN, it will assign Reference Type to Journal Article. You might need to:

Find out about installing and using the Mendeley Web Importer.

*Titles can be sentence or title case depending on the citation style.

How do I get Reports in Mendeley?

You can drag a PDF of a report into Mendeley Desktop, but you will likely need to edit the information. If there is a webpage with details about the report, you can try the Mendeley Web Importer. Find out about installing and using the Mendeley Web Importer

You might need to:

How do I get Patents in Mendeley?

Mendeley Web Importer doesn't work well. It is easiest to drag the PDF into Mendeley Desktop and enter all the information manually.

How do I get Theses and Dissertations in Mendeley?

Dragging a PDF of a theses or dissertation into Mendeley Desktop; does not work well. Try using the Mendeley Web Importer with the website you are downloading or found the information. Find out about installing and using the Mendeley Web Importer.

Some examples of places to find theses or dissertations are

You might need to: