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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 article.
  2. Scroll down to Files +, click the plus sign
  3. Navigate to the folder where your file is located
  4. Select the file & click the Open button or double-click to add the file to the article record.Article record in Mendeley showing + File option to add PDF or other files

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

Add references to Mendeley in these ways:

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

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.

Searching the Mendeley Web Catalog

Search Mendeley's web catalog at for specific articles or subjects. 

Search box for searching the Mendeley Web Library at


Here is the search results page. There are a variety of filters that you can apply to your search results on the left, & you can sort your results by Most Relevant, Most Recent, & Most Cited.

Search results page from a search in the Mendeley web catalog for "organ transplantation japan ethics"


To add references to your library, simply click Add to library. When the article PDF is freely available, click the View PDF link to read or download it.  If the PDF is not freely available, you'll see a Get Full text Link instead. Use the Related link to see other articles in the Mendeley Web Catalog that are related to the article that you chose.

Detail of a search item showing record and Add and other options below.

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.

Web Importer

Use the Web Importer to save references to your library, adding it to any web browsers that you use. When you want to export, click the icon, sign in to Mendeley, & in the new window, Choose Select all or make a selection of references to import. If PDFs are freely available, it will be automatically imported.

Mendeley's web importer, showing articles available to be imported from PubMed to Mendeley.