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Library Research Guides

Mendeley Basics

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

Adding References Manually

1.From the File dropdown menu (or the Add Files menu), select Add Entry Manually.

2. In the New Document window that opens:

  • Select the type of reference from the Type dropdown menu.
  • Enter enough information in the record fields to create a citation (Author, Title [of book or article & journal]; publication year; place of publication & publisher for a book OR volume, issue, & page numbers for an article).  There's no need to fill in all of the fields.

3. Click the Save button.

Attaching Files to Existing Citations

  1. Open the record for the citation.
  2. Scroll down to Files, select Add Files, then search for & select the file you want to attach.
  3. Click Open or double-click to add the file.

Already Have a CiteULike or Zotero Library?

Integrate your CiteULike or Zotero libraries with Mendeley using the File Organizer (Tools > Options > File Organizer). You can also organize your PDF files in a consistent folder structure on your hard disk & rename them according to their document details.

Adding References

One of the magical parts of Mendeley is the ability to add references by simply dragging & dropping PDFs into your Mendeley Desktop library. You can also:

  1. Import from electronic databases, using Mendeley's Web Importer (citations are imported into Mendeley Web) OR using the .ris or .nbib formats.
  2. Import existing libraries from other citation management programs (EndNote / BibTeX / RIS databases).
  3. Import from Mendeley's Research Catalog.
  4. Import using Catalog ID lookup.
  5. Add references manually.

Watch a video to see how this works.

Important note:  When you attach documents (such as PDFs, Word docs, JPEGs), you must keep them in a folder, somewhere on your computer or network space.  If you work on multiple computers, the folders need to contain only those files that you've attached on that computer; that is, you don't have to duplicate all files on all of the computers that you use.

Drag & Drop PDFs

Just drag one or more PDFs from a dedicated folder on your desktop, share space, or USB drive into your library into Mendeley Desktop. The program then extracts the metadata (author, title, journal name, etc.) to create a library record.

Note:  Keep a folder for Mendeley PDFs on each computer that you use (it only needs to have the PDFs that were uploaded from that computer, not all PDFs in Mendeley) or keep them on share space)

If the program senses that there may be errors in the record, it will be placed in a Needs Review folder until you correct the information or confirm that it is correct. Use the Search by title button to search Google Scholar, or use the research catalog entry, or PMID in PubMed to correct errors.


You can, of course, attach PDFs & other file types directly to your existing citations.

Searching the Research Catalog

Search Mendeley's crowd-sourced research catalog on the web for specific articles or subjects.  To add references from the catalog to your library, simply click the Save Reference to library or Save PDF to library button when the PDF is freely available to all to add both the record & the PDF ast the same time.  If the PDF is not freely available, use the Find this paper at dropdown list to use the Library's open URL resolver to search for the article.


Also use the Related Research below each article to expand your search.

Exporting Large Numbers of Citations

If you want to to import hundreds (or thousands) of references (for example, if you're doing a systematic review) and don't want to import a references a page of results at a time using the Web Importer, there are other ways to export.

.ris format in a variety of databases

  1. Select Mendeley on the dialog box that opens, giving you a choice to "open with" or save", OR
  2. Save the file to your desktop, then import it into Mendeley.

.nbib format in PubMed

  1. In PubMed, from the Send to link in the upper right, select Citation Manager, then click the Create File button.
  2. In Mendeley, from the Add Files menu, select Add Files...
  3. Browse to find the .nbib file, select, & click the Open button to import the citations.

Web Importer

Use the Web Importer browser extension / bookmarklet to save references to your library.   Simply drag & drop the Save to Mendeley button into the toolbar of each browser that you use. Click the icon, sign in to Mendeley, & in the new window, select the references to import.  Check Download PDFs if available to have PDFs that are freely available automatically imported.

Catalog ID Numbers

Catalog ID numbers (ArXiv ID, DOI, or PMIDs from PubMed) are another way to import articles or to complete the information for your references.

  • To create a new record from a catalog ID number, from the File menu, select Add Entry Manually, scroll down to the catalog ID section, enter the number, then click the magnifying glass to create a new record.
  • To add information to an existing reference, simply follow the same steps, but in the reference record.