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Citation Management Tools

Guide to help you choose, install, and use citation managers like Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote Basic.

Mendeley Mendeley


Mendeley is a free citation manager that offers a set of features appropriate for all research levels.


  • Available as desktop client software, web application, and a companion mobile app (iOS and Android). Also includes a browser plugin that offers one-click citation imports from the web. 
  • Works with Mac, Windows, and Linux. View specific system requirements.
  • Has a citation plugin for Microsoft Word (Mac and Windows versions) and LibreOffice.
  • Cloud storage limit is 2GB.
  • Can sync data across multiple devices using your free Mendeley account.
  • VIew other features in our comparison chart.

Installing Mendeley

You'll need to set up a free Mendeley account in order to use the desktop client. Simply visit the Mendeley website and click "Create account" at the top of the page.

As of September 1, 2022, the previous desktop client ("Mendeley Desktop") was no longer available to download, and the new desktop client is called "Mendeley Reference Manager." If you have Mendeley Desktop, you may continue to use it, but Elsevier intends to drop support at some point in favor of Reference Manager.

Mendeley Reference Manager can be downloaded for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The installation guide will indicate which versions of those operating systems Mendeley supports. 

In addition to installing Reference Manager, use your new Mendeley credentials to log in to the web client.

There are companion iOS and Android mobile apps that you can use in conjunction with the desktop client. The mobile apps are mainly for viewing and annotating PDFs, rather than managing your citation library, which is why Mendeley recommends them as companions to Reference Manager.

Configuring Mendeley

Creating an Account

No matter how you choose to access Mendeley, you'll need a free Mendeley account. If you haven't created an account yet, go to the Mendeley website and click "Create account" at the top of the page. If you have an account for other Elsevier services, like ScienceDirect or Scopus, you can use those credentials to sign in to Mendeley. 


When you launch the desktop client for the first time, you'll be prompted to sign in with your Mendeley account credentials. 

Once logged in, you'll be given the option of installing other add-ons like the Web Importer and MS Word plugin. Feel free to skip this step, as you can do it at any time. You'll also be presented with a brief tour of Mendeley options.

That's all you need to do to begin using the desktop client! To learn how to add citations and PDFs, consult the Adding Content to Mendeley section.


To get started, visit the Mendeley website and sign in with your Mendeley account credentials.

Once signed in, consider creating your personal profile. Unlike profiles you've created for social media, your Mendeley profile focuses on your scholarship and research interests. Completing your profile will allow Mendeley Suggest to inform you of relevant research you might be interested in, and it will let potential collaborators know of your research interests and, if you have them, publications. 

More information about your profile, Mendeley Suggest, and group collaboration can be found in the Mendeley Web Guide.


Once you've installed the iOS or Android  app, launch it and sign in with your Mendeley account credentials. The first time you sign in, you'll be show a few highlights of the app. The app will automatically sync with your Mendeley account and download your library. Because the mobile app is meant as a companion to the desktop client, there really isn't any more you need to configure. 

Consult the Mendeley iOS Guide or Android Guide for more information about using the app.

Adding Content to Mendeley

Drag and drop files and folders

If you have PDFs you want in your library, Mendeley Desktop allows you to simply drag and drop those files into the client window. Mendeley will automatically extract document details and create a library entry. You can also drag and drop an entire folder of documents, which Mendeley will sift through and create entries for the PDFs it finds.

Have Mendeley watch a folder

If you have a specific folder or folders you use to save PDFs relevant to your research, you don't have to remember to also add those PDFs to Mendeley. In Mendeley Desktop, navigate to Tools > Options > Watched Folders and tick the folder(s) Mendeley should monitor. When new PDFs are added to those folders, Mendeley will automatically import and create library entries for them.

Web Importer

The Mendeley Web Importer browser extension examines the web page you're visiting and automatically creates citations from the documents it finds there. You can select which citations you want to add to your library and import them with a click.

Manually add entries

Of course, you can always add a citation manually for materials you don't have a PDF version of.

  • In Mendeley Desktop, go to File > Add Entry Manually...
  • In your Mendeley Web library, click Add and select New Manual Entry.

Select the type of document, fill in the appropriate fields, and click Save to add the entry to your library.

Import citations

You can transfer your existing citations from RefWorks, EndNote, Zotero, Papers, and more.

  1. Use the Export option in the source software to create an RIS, EndNote XML, or BibTeX file.
  2. Import the file into Mendeley.
    • In Mendeley Desktop, select File > Import... and select the appropriate file type and location of the exported file.
    • In Mendeley Web, select Add, choose the Import type, and select the location of the exported file.

Review citations for accuracy

No matter which method you use to create entries in your Mendeley library, we recommend always reviewing them for accuracy using an appropriate style guide.


Mendeley Support

There are a wide variety of support materials on the Mendeley website, including installation and help guides for every version of Mendeley and its associated plugins, video tutorials, and citation guides.

The Mendeley Support Center offers FAQs and options for contacting support staff by email, chat, or Twitter.