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Citation Management : Mendeley

A guide for all things citation management.

About Mendeley

MMendeley logoendeley is a reference manager (and PDF organization tool for your hard drive) that serves as a bridge between your literature searches and finished papers. With Mendeley you can manage citations and PDFs, insert citations to a Word document, and create a bibliography. Mendeley also has many helpful features for citing in LaTeX. Mendeley is owned by Elsevier.

Access Mendeley. Download the Mendeley desk top product and sign up for the online version.

Add References

Add references on Mendeley desktop

Option 1: Watched Folders

  • In Preferences or Options go to the Watched Folders tab
    • You can set Mendeley up to see whenever you download a new PDF to a folder
    • Note: We do not recommend Watching your Downloads folder, as Mendeley will attempt to import anything it finds there

Option 2: Import Files and Folders

  • Drag and drop a PDF file or folder of PDFs into the desktop application. Mendeley will extract citation information for that file

Option 3: Enter Data Manually

  • Click the drop-down arrow beside the Add icon or go to File > Add Entry Manually to bring up the dialog box to import a file manually
    • Note: if you have a PubMed ID or digital object identifier (DOI), you can normally use the magnifying glass tool to auto-populate the fields
Add references to Mendeley web version

Use the Mendeley Web Importer (available for many modern browsers)

Note: for each of these methods, the data Mendeley can scrape from a PDF depends on how clean the source data is — garbage in, garbage out!

Create a Bibliography

Create a bibliography using a folder:

  • Drag and drop your references into your folder
  • Navigate to that folder, select one of the references, and then click CTRL+A (for PC users) or Command+A (for Mac users) to copy the reference
  • Right-click to pull up the menu and click Copy As > Formatted Citation
  • You can now paste that text into your document

Note: You will need to make sure that you are using the correct citation style before creating your bibliography from a folder. Citation styles can be found within View > Citation Style.

Another option to create a bibliography is to integrate Mendeley & Microsoft Word.


An important notice about account creation. Following Elsevier's acquisition of Mendeley, Mendeley has been integrated into the Elsevier account ecosystem. One option Elsevier provides is authentication via CAS/netID credentials. If you want to use Mendeley Desktop, do not create an account using Shibboleth or an institutional account (their wording) at this time. As of December 2018, the desktop (non-web) version of the software does not support institutional account logins.

Otherwise, Mendeley is a freemium tool — it is not included in our Elsevier subscriptions, and individuals and labs generally pay for their own access beyond the free account levels.

An important note about Office365. If you are using the Yale-managed Office365 instance, you may be blocked from installing add-ons for Mendeley. The current way to resolve this is to visit the Yale ITS page on Microsoft 365 and to click "Open Support Ticket" in the button menu that is located in the sidebar to the right of the Microsoft 365 information. In the message you send, say:

Yale Library told me to contact you about adding the Mendeley Microsoft Word plugin, available at I need to use this in order for the reference manager to properly insert my citations, but it needs to be approved for my account by Yale ITS. Please reference ITS ticket #INC1911877 for information about Mendeley and the data the plugin will access.

ITS should then have the information it needs to enable the extension for your Office365 account.


Mendeley & LaTeX

Mendeley has many helpful features for citing in LaTeX:

  • In Preferences or Options, navigate to the BibTeX tab
  • Ensure that Escape Special Characters is selected
  • You can also use journal abbreviations or set up Mendeley to sync a .bib file to a specific folder
  • To copy .bib-formatted entries manually to paste into a .bib file (or into an online editor such as ShareLaTeX or Overleaf), first create a folder for your references
    • Drag and drop relevant references into that folder
    • Navigate to that folder, select one of the references, and then click CTRL+A (for PC/Linux users) or Command+A (for Mac users)
    • Right-click to pull up the menu and click Copy As > BibTeX entry
    • You can paste that text into your .bib file
  • More information on citing in LaTeX is available on the Bib Your TeX guide

Mendeley & Microsoft Word

By default, Mendeley will automatically install and update the Word plug-in. Check by going to Tools > Install Word Plugin.

  • On the Microsoft Word toolbar, look for either References or Add-ins
  • Place your cursor where you would like a citation to appear
  • Select Insert or Edit Citation and search for a reference.
    • Additional options for page numbers and other material in the parentheses can be found by clicking on the Lastname Year in the text box
  • Another option is to select Go to Mendeley in the dialog box, search for a reference, and send the citation to Word.
    • Note: This process is not obvious!
      • After you click Go to Mendeley, two new buttons will appear in the icon panel between Sync and Help.
      • Once you select the citation(s), click the quotes icon
  • To add page numbers, you can edit the citation and pull up the additional options in the same way as the previous bullet