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Mendeley Basics

A guide to the basic uses of the Mendeley citation manager.

About Mendeley

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Do you need help transitioning from Mendeley Desktop to Mendeley Reference Manager? Here's a guide to help you out!  Migration Guide for Mendeley Desktop Users

Mendeley is a citation management tool that, like many others, lets you collect & organize citations, & then easily insert them into documents & format bibliographies.

You can highlight and annotate your PDFs. Choose a color (not just yellow!) for your highlights and notes.

Use more than one computer?  Download Mendeley Reference Manager to as many computers as you want, then sync them with a click of your mouse.  Need to use your library away from your computer?  Mendeley on the  Web gives you access to your citations no matter where you are with an interface the same as Mendeley Reference Manager.

Collaborate by creating collections of papers in private groups. You can share PDFs (and your annotations) with anyone who is a member of your group.

The free version of Mendeley has some limitations on space (2 GB web storage, 500 MB each for personal shared storage) and users (25) for private, invite-only groups, but you can purchase premium plans for more web & personal storage space & more users & shared groups.

If you need more help with Mendeley

Using Mendeley

The Mendeley Reference Manager app is available for the Windows, Mac, & Linux operating systems.

Sign up for an account & download the app here:

Mendeley released new features in October 2023: 

  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Panning of PDFs when using Mendeley on a mobile device
  •  A new Insert Citation button to easily insert single citations in Mendeley Cite.

Read more here:

  • All PDFs must be kept in a folder on each device that you use with Mendeley for the program to work properly.  When you download the desktop version of Mendeley, a folder is automatically created. The Downloads folder is in your Mendeley data folder.  Find it here: PCs -  C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Mendeley Ltd\Mendeley Desktop\Downloaded; Macs - Cmd+Shift+D; click Open Data Directory to access the folder. Note:  If you work on more than one computer, these folders will not contain the same files; each device will have the PDFs that were added from that computer.
  • Want your PDFs stored elsewhere?  Create a new folder in the new location (for example, your desktop).  For PCs: in Mendeley Desktop, from the Tools menu, select Options, then File Organizer.  Browse to find the new folder, click Apply, then OK.  For Macs, use Preferences.
  • To insert citations & create bibliographies in documents, download Mendeley Cite from the Microsoft store. You don't need to have the Mendeley Reference Manager open in order to use Mendeley Cite.
  • To create a bibliography in your document, first place your cursor where you want the bibliography to go (in most cases, at the end of the document). From Mendeley Cite, select the More option, then click "Insert Bibliography". Click the Continue button at the prompt.

Image of message/Continue window for creating bibliographies in Mendeley.

You can export an entire EndNote library or individual groups (to maintain the structure of your library) using these simple steps.

  1. In EndNote, select the references that you want to import into Mendeley Desktop, and from the File menu, select Export....
  2. In the new window that opens (Export file name), at Files of type, use the dropdown menu to select XML (*.xml).
  3. Rename the file (if you wish) & click the Save button.
  4. Open Mendeley Desktop.  From the File menu, select Add Files.
  5. Browse to find the export file (by default, EndNote will save it in My Documents) & click Open.  Your references (but not PDFs) are imported.

Mendeley Handouts

Use Mendeley Quick Start to learn the program fast.  Use Mendeley Basics to find more details and functions.

Use LaTeX?

Here are some helpful links to use Mendeley with LaTeX.  Note:  It's not perfect yet.

Mendeley also works with WriteLaTex.  Read this blog post to find out more.