Setting up and using Mendeley Desktop at UoP (accessible version)

A printable PDF version of this guide is also available to download


Mendeley Desktop allows you to store and organise your research sources as well as creating in-text and reference lists in Word. It can save a lot of time when completing larger research projects.

Mendeley has an online version and a desktop version:

Before launching Mendeley, open and close Word - this allows installation of the word plug-in.

Step 1 - Register for a Mendeley account, download the software and choose your citation style

  1. Go to the Mendeley website and 'Create account' using a personal email address. Fill in all the required details. 
    Do not use 'Sign in via your institution' as this only gives limited rights.

  2. A confirmation will be sent to the email address that you have registered with. Click on the link in the email.

    If you already have an account sign in using your account details.
    If you have an account, but have forgotten your password, it is easily retrieved on the sign in page.

  3. Now download Mendeley Desktop, run the software and login.

    If you are using a University PC or laptop, you need to download  Mendeley from 'Apps Anywhere':
    • Find this icon on your computer start screen. Agree to the terms and conditions, search for Mendeley and Launch and Login.
    • Once Mendeley is open, right click on the red M icon in your taskbar and pin it for easy future access.

  4. On opening the Mendeley screen, choose to 'install the citation plugin for Word' (VERSIONS NOTE: if you are using a newer version of Word, 2019 or 365, you will need to choose the 'Get Mendeley Cite' option instead and learn how to use Mendeley Cite). 
    Both the Word plugin and Mendeley Cite options can be found under the Tools menu in Mendeley - check here if the initial screen does not provide the version you need.

  5. Open Word and go to the 'References' tab – check Mendeley Cite-O-Matic appears and the close Word.

Choose your Style

The latest version of Mendeley automatically uses APA 7th edition as the referencing style. 
To change the default style to an alternative if relevant to your discipline/publication:

In Mendeley desktop select 'View' and then 'Citation Style' and then 'More Styles'
Right click on 'American Psychological Association 7th edition' and choose 'Uninstall style' and 'Yes'
Click on 'Get More Styles' and search for an alternative style
Select the preferred style and 'Install' and 'Done'.

Go back into 'View' and 'Citation Style' and 'More Styles'
You will now see your style in the 'Installed' Styles Tab - select the style and 'Use this Style' and 'Done'
Your preferred style is now set as your default style.

Open Word again and look in the References tab.  Check that your default style is now selected in Mendeley Cite-O-Matic.

Create a folder

You can create folders using the options under My Library (on the left hand side) to organise your references. 

Step 2 - Add and edit references

There are lots of ways to do this! Find the strategy that works best for you.

As you add references, remember to look at the record details screen for each item and check the options under 'My Library' for your 'Recently Added/All Documents' and additional folders.

A. Drag and Drop downloaded PDF journal articles:

When you download a PDF from a database or another source, you can drag and drop this straight into your desktop account.  You can also do this with any existing PDF files you have saved on your computer:

  1. Select the files you want in Windows Explorer or your Downloads folder on your computer/laptop

  2. Drag them over to your Mendeley desktop window by holding down the left mouse button

  3. Let them go in the Mendeley desktop main Library window when you see Copy or Add

  4. Mendeley will extract the details from the PDF and you can view the record in 'Recently Added'

  5. Click on the record to see the reference details – edit anything that needs changing by clicking into the fields (e.g. add or change date/volumes etc.) or if Mendeley indicates the reference details need reviewing, use the 'Search' feature to find complete details and then click 'Details are Correct'

  6. Double-click on the record to open up the PDF, add notes/highlight etc.

B. Add your existing Files/Folders and set up a Watch Folder

If you don’t like drag/drop, use 'Add Files' under the 'File' tab to select PDFs from your computer/laptop.

You can also set up a Watch Folder if you want to always save PDFs to the same place. Mendeley will then automatically add any new PDFs in the Watch folder into your account (check 'Recently Added').

C. Export records directly from SCOPUS

This is one of the easiest ways to get accurate reference details into Mendeley but it will not include the PDF of the full article, only the citation. You will need to download and add the PDF separately or link through from the 'Record Details' using the 'View Research Catalog Entry for this Paper' (provided the University has a subscription).

  1. Search for Scopus using the library catalogue and access this resource

  2. Register for a personal account

  3. Enter your search terms and refine your results as usual

  4. On the results screen, select the records you want using the tick boxes and click 'Export'

  5. Choose 'Mendeley' at the top of your results and 'Export'

  6. Open Mendeley Desktop and check the 'Recently Added' area for your records. There will not be a PDF icon as there is no full text attached

D. Installing and using the web importer (best for books/webpages)

The Web Importer tool allows you to scrape reference details from book records, papers, webpages and other documents and add these directly into Mendeley Desktop.

It can be very useful but it doesn’t work with all website/library databases and you must check the accuracy of the details that are imported

  1. Install the web importer from Mendeley Desktop:

    • Select the 'Tools' menu and 'Install Web Importer'. Choose the appropriate browser option and scroll down to follow the instructions
      (Chrome generally works best for library resources – Install and then Add to Chrome and Add Extension)
    • A small red Mendeley M will appear on your browser

  2. Using the Web Importer tool

    • Search for a record in the Library Catalogue or Discovery, or another resource of your choice (e.g. Google Scholar or a reliable website).
      For the Library Catalogue, make sure you are viewing the full book details.
    • Click on the M – a box will open up on the right of the screen. This will contain the bibliographic details associated with the books/articles or other sources you are trying to import.
    • Check and edit the details to ensure they are as you would want them for APA 6th. The importer tool will not always pick up the correct information!

      • If it has added a URL for a book that is only in printed format, you will need to remove this.
      • You may also need to add in or remove additional information.
      • If there is no published date, leave this field blank as Mendeley will automatically add n.d. (no date) for you.

    • Save the record to your Library generally, or select a particular folder.
    • If a PDF is available for the record, the Web Importer will try and include it in your Library.

E. Adding records manually

Some sources, such as information, data or reports from professional databases, cannot be added to Mendeley via any of the previous methods.

For these, go to 'File' and choose 'Add Entry Manually'. Select the type of resource (e.g. report) and fill in the appropriate details and save the record.

F. Adding records via RIS (this method is also used for moving references between different reference management tools)

Sometimes you may need to 'import a RIS file' from a database into Mendeley. Only use this option if you want to download a large amount of results from a database (e.g. Discovery or Web of Science) or you can’t drag/drop the PDFs. This is a 2 step process:

  1. In the database: select the records you want and look for an Export option. Choose RIS format and save the file.

  2. In Mendeley: choose the Import option under the File menu and select RIS. Locate your saved RIS file and add the records to your Library.

Step 3 – Organise your library

Once all your records are in place, as well as considering our tips above, have a look at the range of options Mendeley provides to organise your research and annotate your pdfs.

These links provide more information:

Step 4a – Create a reference list or bibliography without the Word plugin 
(see below for using the Word plugin)

In Mendeley Desktop, simply select the records that you want to include, right click and use the 'Copy As' option and 'Formatted Citation'.

Open a Word document, right click and paste in your references.

Step 4b – Use the Word Plugin to create in-text citations and reference lists

REMEMBER: if you are using a newer version of Word, 2019 or 365, you will need to choose the 'Get Mendeley Cite' option instead and learn how to use Mendeley Cite.

For Word 2016 and older versions: the Mendeley Word citation plugin allows you to produce in-text citations as you write and generates a reference list for all your citations at the end. It does this by pulling in and including your Mendeley records in your work as you type, in placeholder fields. These are shown as grey in Word and it is important that you don’t edit or change these grey fields manually, all changes must be within Mendeley and pulled in to ensure everything works correctly.

For instructions on installing the Word plugin, see Step 1.

In Word, to insert a citation:

  1. Click on the 'References tab' and ensure the Mendeley section is set to American Psychological Association 7th (or an alternative style of your choice)

  2. Click in your sentence where you want your citation to be added.

  3. Click on 'Insert Citation' and search for the required reference.

  4. Select the reference you want to add from the list. The author and date are now shown in the box (your in-text reference). If you want to add multiple citations in the same place, search again and repeat this step.

  5. If you want to make changes to your in-text reference, click on the author’s name (e.g. you want to suppress the author as you many have already included this in your sentence or add a page number or additional information). Click OK when finished.

  6. The in-text reference will now appear in your sentence in the correct format.

If you are unhappy with your in-text reference, click on it and choose 'Edit Citation' from the References toolbar and make any changes.

if there are errors with how you have formatted your authors in your Mendeley records, these will be reflected in your in-text citations.

You will need to change these in Mendeley and then use the 'Refresh' button on the References toolbar to incorporate the changes into Word.

In Word, to insert a reference list:

  1. Put the mouse curser at the end of your work and type References on a new line

  2. Hit Enter and then click 'Insert Bibliography' in the Referencing toolbar

  3. The references you have included in your sentences will now appear in A-Z order in a reference list.

  4. Check your references carefully against library guidance.

If there are errors, change these in Mendeley and then use the 'Refresh' button in the Word References toolbar to bring the changes into your document.

Step 5 – Access anywhere!

If you are away from your laptop/pc and you want to view your Mendeley library without downloading the desktop version, you can use Mendeley online.

Simply drag/drop PDFs and check/edit your records as normal.

You must Sync your Desktop version when you next login

Step 6 – Getting more help

Detailed support on using Mendeley Desktop 

Additional support for the Word Plugin

Referencing Help and Support

A printable PDF version of this guide is also available to download