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Citation Management

Mendeley Basics

Mendeley LogoMendeley uses both a desktop and web version that work roughly in tandem. Citations can be imported to either one and can then be synchronized with the other. 


  1. Go to and create a free account (Note: if you have an existing Elsevier account, this will work with Mendeley)
  2. Go to and download and install the desktop version appropriate for your operating system (Windows, MacOS, Linux)

Note: Mendeley Desktop is not supported for Mac OS 10.14 (Mojave). View compatibility information here.

Note: Installation of Mendeley Desktop requires Administrator rights to the computer. If you are installing on a university computer and you do not have Administrator rights, you will need to contact your local IT staff to install this software.

Screenshot of Mendeley Desktop: Add FilesAdding Citations to Mendeley Desktop

You can add citations from most databases directly into Mendeley. The steps will vary slightly for different databases, but in general:

  1. In the database, select the citations you wish to export.
  2. Look for an option to "Export". Export your citations in RIS format.
  3. Open Mendeley Desktop.
  4. Click the Add button (icon with the plus sign).
  5. Select the file you saved with the .ris extension, and click Open.

Specific instructions for different databases are included in the the guide Getting Started With Mendeley (.doc).

Adding Citations using the Mendeley Web Importer

You can also add citations to your Mendeley account using the Mendeley Web Importer, which is a browser plug-in.

Download and install the Web Importer (you may require Administrator access to the computer)

To add citations using the Web Importer:

  1. In the database (or on a website), while viewing your search results, click the Mendeley icon in your browser toolbar. You will be prompted to log into your Mendeley account if you aren't already signed in.
  2. Select (checkmark) the citations you wish to export.
  3. Click Save.

Screenshot of Scopus export using the Mendeley Web Importer.

Adding Citations for PDFs You've Already Saved

If you have PDFs already saved on your computer, you can add them to Mendeley by dragging and dropping the PDF files into the Mendeley Desktop window. Mendeley will automatically extract the citation details from the document and create a library entry. You can also drag and drop a folder containing multiple papers.

Integration with Microsoft Word (or Libre Office) using the Citation Plugin

The Mendeley Citation Plugin allows you to cite items from your Mendeley library while working in Word or LibreOffice, and to generate a bibliography based on the items you've cited.

To install the Citation Plugin (you may need Administrator access to the computer):

  1. Ensure your word processor is closed
  2. Open Mendeley Desktop
  3. Open the Tools Menu and select the appropriate option. Mendeley will detect which word processor(s) you have installed, so the options available to you may vary.

Screenshot of Mendeley Desktop Tools Menu showing MS Word Plugin

For more information, see Using the Citation Plugin or the Beyond the basics guide.