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What is Mendeley

Mendeley is a freely available reference manager and academic social network with web-baseddesktop and mobile versions. You can sync your library between these different versions and across different computers.

With a free account, you get 2GB of web space and can create 1 private groups with up to 3 users. You can upgrade to a premium plan if you need more space or groups.

Getting started with Mendeley

Adding references to Mendeley

You can add references to your Mendeley Library through 3 ways

  • Through Mendeley web importer
  • Through Mendeley Desktop
  • Through Mendeley web

Mendeley Web importer

A major feature of Mendeley is the web importer.

Import papers, web pages and other documents directly into your Library from search engines and academic databases. Mendeley web importer is available for all major web browsers.

To get it:
1. Go to
2. For Chrome or Firefox: Click the “browser extension” link
3. For other browsers: Drag the "Save To Mendeley" button to your Bookmarks Bar


chrome and firefox logo arrow icon  Mendeley browser extension screenshot

Safari and Internet Explorer logo arrow icon Save to Mendeley button screenshot


Use the Mendeley web importer button to import citation information from:

  • Academic databases
  • Google Scholar
  • Web pages.

Just click the button and the web importer will look for citation information on that page. You may need to sign in to your Mendeley account if you haven't already done so. There is a check-box option to download the full text PDFs, if found. Select the items you want to save to your Library and click 'Save' or 'Save all'. These items will be saved to your Mendeley Web Library. Make sure to sync your Desktop Library to have them added there as well.

web importer screenshotarrow iconweb importer screenshotsync library screenshot

Remember to always check the citation information that Mendeley imports, as it may not be 100% correct, depending on the source. 

Add references through Mendeley web and Desktop

Drag and drop

If you have a PDF file on your computer you can drag and drop it over the Mendeley Desktop program. Mendeley will extract the data and add your reference automatically. 

mendeley pdf screenshot

File menu

Using the File menu in Mendeley Desktop, you can choose to add individual files or the contents of an entire folder by browsing to the relevant location on your computer.

You can also opt to ‘watch’ a folder - which will mean that Mendeley monitors that location for any new items being dropped into the folder. If it finds a new document, that document will be automatically added to your Mendeley Library.

mendeley file menu screenshot

 Mendeley web

In Mendeley Web you can add files using the '+ Add' dropdown menu. Choose to add a document or folder, or import a library in .xml, .ris, or .bib format.

add files mendeley online screenshot


Enter references manually

1. Select File > Add Entry Manually for Mendeley Desktop, or + Add > New manual entry for Mendeley Web.

add entry manually screenshot       mendeley online new manual entry


2. Choose the relevant reference Type eg Journal Article. Fill in the fields following the Mendeley data entry conventions, and click 'Save' to finish.

new document screenshot       add details online screenshot

Using Mendeley with MS Word

Using Mendeley with MS Word

Mendeley uses a plug-in to format in-text citations and reference lists in MS Word. The functionality of this plug-in is limited, but it is simple and easy to use.

  • Install the Word plug-in first.
  • Open MS Word, click the References ribbon to find the Mendeley Word plug-in toolbar. 


Insert in-text citations

Insert in-text citations

You can select citations from your desktop Mendeley and insert them as in-text citations in your Word document.

  • Select your preferred referencing style (e.g. APA 6th) from the Style dropdown box
  • Place a cursor at the end of a sentence where you want to insert an in-text citation
  • Click Insert Citation from the Mendeley Word plug-in bar
  • Search for the relevant reference using the search box, or click Go To Mendeley to select a citation from your Mendeley library


  • Click OK to insert this citation in your document.


  • You can also click the Go To Mendeley button to go to your Mendeley library. Select a reference and click the Cite. The in-text citation should now be inserted into your document.

Edit in-text citations

  • If you notice mistakes in your in-text citations or reference list (e.g. spelling mistakes, incorrect capitalisation etc.), the best way to remedy this is to correct the details in your Mendeley library first. Then go back to your Word document and click the Refresh button on the Mendeley Word plug-in bar to update these citations.


  • If you would like to remove an author from an in-text citation or add a page number to an in-text citation, click the in-text citation in your document, the Insert Citation button in the Mendeley Word plug-in bar will change to Edit Citation:


  • Click Edit Citation, the following box will pop up. Click the citation "Machius 2003"


  • You can now edit this citation, e.g. select Suppress author, or add a page number, etc.


Insert and Edit a bibliography

Insert a bibliography

Click Insert Bibliography to start building your Reference List. Each time you add a new in-text citation to your document, the reference will be automatically added to your reference list, in the correct order.


Edit a bibliography

In-text citations and the bibliography in a Word document are linked with your Mendeley library. However, you can make a plain text document without Mendeley field codes.

  • After you complete your writing, click the Reference ribbon on the top of your Word document.
  • In the Mendeley Word plug-in bar, click the Export as drop-down menu, select Without Mendeley Fields


  • Save this file to your computer. This will create a duplicated document without Mendeley field codes. When you click on the references or in-text citations, you will not see the gray colour background.