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Mendeley Reference Manager Guide


There is now a new version of the reference manager known as Mendeley Reference Manager that replaces the old version known as Mendeley Desktop. Researchers' feedback has been used to improve the functionality of Mendeley Reference Manager.

You can still download and use the desktop version (Mendeley Desktop), but some limitations apply, such as that it does not support MacOS 11 Big Sur. For more information about versions, visit Mendeley Support Center.  

For help with using the Mendeley Desktop, you can follow my older tutorial (recorded in June 2020) or consult the help guides

Our focus will be on Mendeley Reference Manager. This guide provides you with basic knowledge about using reference manager and is structured so that you can watch videos and view infographics before taking a skills quiz. After passing the Skills Quiz, you are ready to begin using Mendeley Ref Manager. 

Good luck! 

Getting started with Mendeley Reference Manager


How to install Mendeley Reference Manager 

Mendeley Reference Manager is available for Mac, Windows and Linux - Choose your platform, download and install >>> installation guide

Once this is done, you will also need to install:

  1. Mendeley Web Importer, and
  2. Mendeley Cite for Microsoft Word 

Mendeley Web Importer is currently supported for Chrome and Firefox:

Chrome Web Store

Firefox Add-Ons Store

web importer/cite


Mendeley Reference Manager general view:



How to add/import references  

Option 1: adding references using Mendeley Web Importer

>>> guide

Open a PDF document that you want to add to your library in a browser. Click on the Mendeley icon, and a right sidebar will appear prompting you to Sign in to Mendeley. Follow the instructions. All new imports will be found under  "Recently Added"

with web importer


Option 2: adding references without Web Importer

- drag and drop

locate a sample document (a PDF article, for example) that you want to add to your library on your computer and drag and drop it to the Mendeley Library; edit metadata if necessary

- browse for files


-manually create a new entry


-import existing library 



How to export references?



Syncing across devices

Your library automatically syncs, backing up any changes you make to the cloud.


Reading and annotating PDF documents

>>> read & annotate guide



How to insert citations and bibliography into Word?

>>> guide

Mendeley Cite for Microsoft Word allows inserting citations into Word  

You can use Mendeley Cite to:

  • Search for references in your Mendeley library and insert them into the document you're working on.
  • Select and insert individual or multiple references at once.
  • Create a bibliography of all the references you've cited.
  • Change to any of your preferred citation styles in just a few clicks.
  • Cite without having Mendeley Reference Manager open or even installed - once you sign in to Mendeley Cite, your Mendeley library is downloaded from the cloud.
  • Keep sight of your Word document at all times - Mendeley Cite opens as a separate panel in Word alongside your document window, not over it.

- insert citations

insert citations

- create a bibliography



How to change a citation style? 

>>> guide 

Mendeley Cite allows you to change the citation style you’re using - even after you’ve finished adding all of your citations and creating your bibliography. If you need to resubmit to a different journal with a different style, this feature allows you to easily restyle your document to meet different specifications.

citation style

Skills Quiz

Exercises 1 - 6 cover the basics of Mendeley, while exercises 7 - 9 cover advanced topics. 

< feel free to reach out if there are any problems > 

Let's dive in!

The basics 

  1. Go to and create an account (use UNB credentials). Download Mendeley Reference Manager - this is done, you will also need to install a Mendeley Web Importer and a Mendeley Cite for Microsoft Word. 

  1. Find the following citations in PubMed or in Scopus and add them to your ‘Mendeley Class’ folder in Mendeley Ref Manager. Find the PDFs, save them onto your desktop, and drag and drop it into the Mendeley Ref Manager library

Izda V, Jeffries MA, Sawalha AH. COVID-19: A review of therapeutic strategies and vaccine candidates. Clin Immunol. 2021 Jan; 222:108634. DOI: 10.1016/j.clim.2020.108634. Epub 2020 Nov 17. PMID: 33217545; PMCID: PMC7670907

Kossmeier M, Tran US, Voracek M. Charting the landscape of graphical displays for meta-analysis and systematic reviews: a comprehensive review, taxonomy, and feature analysis. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2020 Feb 7;20(1):26. DOI: 10.1186/s12874-020-0911-9. PMID: 32028897; PMCID: PMC7006175.

  • Is the citation information correct in Mendeley? Y/N
  • Was the abstract included? Y/N
  • If the abstract wasn’t included, copy and paste it from the PDF in Mendeley into the abstract field.

  1. Find the following New York Times article using the Web Importer and add it to Mendeley. Add it into your folderMendeley Class’

Kelly C. Physical Therapy and the Camaraderie of Healing. The New York Times. Published February 17, 2009. 

  • Is the citation information correct in Mendeley? Y/N
  • If the citation information was not complete, add in the missing fields.
  • Does Mendeley recognize this as a Newspaper Article? Y/N?
  • Check the “Type” field.
  •  If Mendeley does not recognize this as a Newspaper Article, change the “Type” using the dropdown menu.

  1. Find 2 more scholarly articles of your choice and add them to the ‘Mendeley Class' folder

  • You should have several references in your 'Mendeley Class' folder now. Mendeley Reference Manager syncs references automatically on the server so you can access them on any device. Hover cursor over the sync icon to see when the last sync occurred. 

  1. Open a PDF in Mendeley and try to use some of the following features:
  • Highlight a section of the PDF
  • Add a few sticky notes throughout the PDF (click on the “Note” icon on the toolbar and add it wherever you want on the PDF)

  1. Open a Word document and type some text, such as

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, qui ea appetere electram, cu falli oportere qui. Te summo affert equidem cum.

  • using Mendeley Cite in Word add 2 citations from your Mendeley library into the first paragraph  
  • using Mendeley Cite in Word add 3 citations into the second paragraph of which the first citation must be the same citation used in the first paragraph
  •  using Mendeley Cite in Word insert a bibliography

-Examine your citations. If you see any errors, make sure to make the edits in Mendeley (If you make the changes in Word, they will not stay once the citations are refreshed).

  • Change the order of the two paragraphs and update

-Did the in-text citations re-number themselves?


   7. Organize your bibliography using IEEE, Turabian, and Acta Naturae citation styles

  1. Export your Mendeley library in .ris and bibtex formats and import it into Zotero

  1. Login to your Mendeley account ( and find groups relevant to your field of research. Join one group.

Which Citation Manager is Best For Me?

You will be amazed at how many reference management programs are on the market. To see the variety of programs available take a look at this TABLE.

An important question to ask is which one is the best reference manager?  The answer is "it depends".  This is because different people have different needs specific to their research field and/or area of study.

Some criteria to consider:

  • Cost
  • System requirements
  • Mobile  access
  • Available personal storage for free
  • Compatibility with other citation managers (example:  If a researcher has an extended collection of articles created in RefWorks, can she/he import the collection  to a new reference manager?)
  • Who provides technical support 

All citation managers perform the same basic functions such as collect and organize your own library of citations, and insert bibliography into your document using proper citation style.  However, some programs offer extended options such as opportunities to share information, the possibility of creating a personal profile, and collaboration tools that let you work with your peers.

The table below compares the three most popular programs: Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote.

free of charge  free of charge  $

Open source

Developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University and the Corporation for Digital Scholarship. It has been generously funded by the United States Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


Developed in Europe, purchased and currently owned by Elsevier


300 MB free cloud storage

(store metadata, keep pdf files on your hard dr)

Cloud storage optional

US servers

Extras storage: $

2gb - $20/per year 

6gb – 60/per year


2GB free cloud storage (can fit 3500-4000 full-text pdf files)

Cloud is mandatory

US servers

Extra storage:  $

5gb - $4.99

10gb – $9.99

very good for non-pdfs: media, videos, images

Can save snapshots of web pages 


Advanced features for PDFs:

Integrated pdf viewer; 

file annotations and notes, search using tags, and folders structure [built-in export function doesn't transfer folders and pdf annotations];

‘Watch Folder’ – renames files according to a selected convention



.ris, bibtex, other

Add/Import/export files:

.ris,bibtex, EndNote xml, Zotero library 

add docs using IDs: ArXiv ID, DOI, PMID

from Scopus in one click (because both are Elsevier products)


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Subject Specialties:
physics, chemistry, biology, biophysics, biochemistry, medical biophysics, engineering, mathematics, computer science, geology, forestry