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Guide to getting started with Mendeley citation software.


Creating a library in Mendeley is relatively easy and intuitive to do. See this page for details and videos about how to populate your library with PDFs and citation files and how to organize the contents of your library once you've imported them.

Questions? Contact Christie Silkotch, Mendeley Coordinator, at or see the main page of this guide for drop-in workshops.

Multiple Ways to Import Articles into Your Library

The easiest way to add content to your Mendeley library is to drag and drop PDFs into Mendeley Desktop, where it will then extract the document details, keywords and cited references.

Mendeley will automatically look up Cross-Ref DOIs, arXiv IDs, and PubMed document details.

Manually add files or folders by using the "Add Document" button in Mendeley Desktop or Web. You can also import existing XML, RIS, or BibTex files from databases or other citation managers (such as EndNote).

Install the browser extension (Chrome and Firefox) or drag the bookmark into your browser bar (Safari and IE) to directly import document details, citations, and any PDF files (where available) from web pages, Google Scholar, and some databases. 

  • Online Download: Web Importer, OR
  • Within Mendeley Desktop: Tools > Install Web Importer

All of this information is stored directly to your Mendeley library, without downloading an article and then uploading it into your library.

Mendeley allows for you to manually enter an article's bibliographic entry.

  • To fill in descriptive fields yourself, click "Add" and then either:
    • "Add Entry Manually" (Desktop), or
    • "New Manual Entry" (Web).

This allows you to add documents other than PDFs, items that aren't in Mendeley's greater research library, items from print citations, etc.

If you already use Zotero to manage your references, you can set up Mendeley to continuously import any documents you add to Zotero. See this page for details on setting up Zotero integration with Mendeley Desktop.

If you currently use Endnote™ or RefWorks for reference management, you can easily import your library into Mendeley:

  • ‚ÄčExport your library from EndNote (.xml format) or RefWorks (.ris format) and name/save the file accordingly.
  • In Mendeley, import this file you just created:
    • Web: Click "+ Add" and select one of the following options:
      • Import EndNote (.xml)
      • Import RIS (.ris)
      • Import BibTeX (.bib)
    • Desktop: Go to File > Import and select one of the following options:
      • BibTeX (*.bib)
      • EndNote XML - EndNote v8, X1 to X3 (*.xml)
      • RIS - Research Information Systems (*.ris)
      • Zotero Library (zotero.sqlite)

Organizing The Contents of Your Library

Mendeley has default filters that appear in the left-hand pane of your library, much like common email tools. These filters are helpful for navigating the contents of your library and locating items within your library:

  • Recently Added
  • Recently Read
  • Favorites
  • Needs Review (lists any items which Mendeley has imported, but may require extra attention)
  • My Publications
  • Unsorted

Mendeley allows you to create folders and subfolders to organize your library by topic, project, or other logical grouping.

Mendeley differs from some email or file systems in that putting an item in a folder does not move the item to that folder. Instead, the folder functions more like a label. This way, you can delete a folder after it is no longer relevant without deleting the contents of that folder; the articles that were in the deleted folder will still be under "All Documents."

For more details, see the Mendeley Guide on Organizing Documents.

Tags are yet another option for organizing the contents of your library. Tags allow for sub-division by topic, subject, or other aspect by using terms of your choice. Tags can be:

  • viewed and edited within the detailed record view of an article
  • used to filter and display certain articles, under folders in the left-hand pane of your library (Mendeley Desktop only)

Mendeley has a powerful integrated search tool that searches not only your references and document details, but also the content of PDFs and any notes fields.

For more details about all of these features, see the video embedded within this page and/or the Mendeley guides:

VIDEO: Importing Documents into Your Library

VIDEO: Organizing Your Library