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Citation Management Software - Mendeley

Mendeley is a free desktop and cloud application that helps you manage your research.

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Creating Folders to Organize Your Library

Noun project "folder" iconOrganizing your library with folders is easy. You can use them to separate collections of documents for different projects or topics.

  1. Click + Create Folder...  on the left sidebar in Mendeley Web or Mendeley Desktop  Screen shot of "Create Folder" button in Mendeley Web Note: In Mendeley Reference Manager, folders are now called Collections.
  2. Name your folder 
  3. Drag, & drop items into the folder

Learn more about organizing your library with folders in this Mendeley Minute: 

Importing from Other Citation Management Software


To import your EndNote library, you need to first export your references to an 'EndNote XML' file and then import that into Mendeley Desktop.

  1. In EndNote, highlight the references that you want to import into Mendeley Desktop, and click File > Export...

  2. In the window that appears, there is a box labeled 'Files of type:', in that box select 'XML (*.xml)'

  3. Choose a name for the file and click the 'Save' button

  4. Open Mendeley Desktop and click File > Add Files

  5. Select the file which you exported from EndNote and click Open, then sync your library to save the references to Mendeley Web too

In addition to the EndNote XML format, you can also export references to Bibtex and RIS format in EndNote which Mendeley Desktop can also import. In EndNote select Edit > Output Styles > Open Style Manager. Check the 'Bibtex Export' and 'RefMan (RIS) Export' options in the list that appears then close the window. Then go to File > Export... and select the 'Text File' type. In the box labeled Output Style, select either Bibtex Export or 'RefMan (RIS) Export'. In the filename field, enter a name ending in ".bib" for Bibtex or ".ris" for RIS export and click Save.


Mendeley Desktop now supports importing your documents directly from Zotero. To do this, you'll need to install Mendeley Desktop onto the same computer as where you have Zotero installed.

  1. Open Mendeley Desktop

  2. Go to Tools > Options (or Mendeley Desktop > Preferences if you're on a Mac) and select the Zotero tab

  3. Enable the checkbox for Zotero integration

  4. Mendeley Desktop will attempt to automatically locate your Zotero database, however you can choose to use an alternate Zotero database if desired.

  5. Once you've clicked Apply and then OK, all of your existing documents from Zotero will be imported into Mendeley Desktop, and any future items you add to Zotero should find their way into Mendeley Desktop automatically

  6. Don't forget to click Sync to save references to Mendeley Web


  1. Log into your RefWorks account.

  2. Go to References menu. Choose Export.

  3. Select Bibliographic Software as the export format and export all your references in .ris format.

    • Alternatively you can export in BibTeX format. 

  4. To Import into Mendeley, open Mendeley Desktop

  5. Go to File > Add Files... and select the file you exported from RefWorks

  6. Mendeley should import all the references automatically.

Note: This will not add your files to Mendeley Desktop, only the references. To add the PDF from RefWorks to Mendeley you will need to download them manually and add them to Mendeley.


  1. In Papers, select File, then Export and select, & select Refman RIS file

    • At the Save as field, name the file

    • At the W’ field, browse for the drive/folder where you will save your this file

    • Click ‘Export’

  2. In Mendeley Desktop, click Add icon 

    • Browse to find the file you exported from Papers & click Open to import.

    • Click the Sync icon  to save the references on the web.

Additional Guidance

For other citation managers, check the Mendeley Support page for information and assistance.

Tip: If you're having trouble importing PDFs along with References, you could move all of your PDFs to a Watched folder, but you may need to merge (de-duplicate) all the citations or clean up the citation information ("Details" tab in each document).

Finding & Organizing Sources of Information

Before you can import information to the citation manager, you must find it. Check out some of the other UO Libraries' research guides to learn:

  1. Where and how to search to find information
  2. How to organize your research process
  3. How and why we cite information

6 Methods for Importing Documents and References to Mendeley Desktop

5 ways to add references

  1. Drag and drop PDFs or other files from your computer directly into the All Documents section or to a Folder in your Library.

    • Drag and drop from All Documents to any Folder you create

  2. File > Add Files..., then use your computer's Finder (Mac) or Browse box (PC) to search for your folder or documents

  3. File > Add Entry Manually... to type or paste your citation data into Mendeley Desktop

  4. File > Import... to import data in various formats including from other citation managers: BibTeX (*.bib), EndNoteXML (*.xml), or RIS (*.ris)

    • Or simply drag and drop the file into your Mendeley Desktop

  5. Use the Mendeley Web Importer to add citations directly from your browser

For Mendeley Desktop only

  1. Set up a Watch Folder. Go to Mendeley Desktop > Preferences > Watched Folders. Select the folder in your computer's hard drive that you want Mendeley to automatically import from. With a Watched Folder, any time you add a new file to it, such as a downloaded PDF, it will automatically upload to your Mendeley Library.

Tip: After importing, it is extremely important that you review and edit the citation details (title, author, etc.) for your entries. 

Review the Details!

Important Tip!

Every time you import a new file or reference to your Mendeley Library (Desktop or Web), it is very important to check the Details panel to make sure all citation data is correct! This will ensure less work for you when it's time to generate the Bibliography and turn in your paper!

Be sure the Type (Journal Article, Book Section, etc.) is correct for the document or citation you are importing. If the Type fields do not include something that you need for a certain citation style, customize the document template by going to Mendeley Desktop > Preferences > Document Details. Check the fields you want to appear on a certain Document type template. For example, you can add a Medium field to the Journal Article Document Type so that you can comply with MLA 7th style and add 'Print' or 'Web' as needed.

[Screen capture is Mendeley Desktop and not the Reference Manager]

Screen shot of Mendeley's Needs Review folder showing alert in Details panel

If you forget to do this, Mendeley will catch SOME but not all of your citations that have missing or problematic details. Click the Needs Review option in the left sidebar menu to see citations with problems that Mendeley has flagged for you.

Using the Details Panel to Add Files/Links

Screen shot of Mendeley Details panel showing Add URL field with a permalink thereAdd a URL

You can add additional links to the Details panel. We recommend you use permanent URLs or permalinks whenever possible. You can find permalinks in most Library subscription databases and Government publications.
























Add a File

Screenshot showing the Details panel in Mendeley with the Add File... option indicated

You can also add a PDF or other file by clicking on "Add Files" in the Details panel and searching for the file in your local hard drive.

Screen captures show Mendeley Desktop (not Mendeley Reference Manager)

Unpublished or Private Documents allows you to search for and add articles to your library, many of which have been added by other Mendeley users worldwide. Most users do not want your course syllabus, your working documents, or other miscellany. To prevent these documents from showing up in the Mendeley search results of others, click the "Unpublished work" checkbox at the bottom of the Details panel in Mendeley Desktop ("Opt Out" in Desktop), or deselect the "Share this reference anonymously with Mendeley Web Catalog option" in Mendeley Reference Manager ("Opt In" in MRM).

Mendeley Desktop (Opt out from sharing) Mendeley Reference Manager (Opt in to sharing)
Screen shot of details tab in Mendeley Desktop showing Unpublished box checked. A cropped screenshot of the Mendeley info tab showing a Journal article title and an arrow indicating the "Share this reference anonymously with 'Mendeley Web Catalog'" checkbox selected

Use these setting to prevent the following types of documents from cluttering up the Web Catalog for other users:

  • Unpublished manuscripts
  • Drafts or working documents
  • Syllabuses
  • Course materials
  • Anything you don't want discoverable (by name, not full text) on