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Managing references: Mendeley

A guide to some of the systems you can use to help with referencing

Mendeley is a free reference manager with web-based, desktop and mobile versions where you can store, organise, highlight and annotate all your PDFs and references. It is also an academic social network where you can create a profile and share the literature you are reading with your research group or co-authors.

Mendeley connects with Microsoft Word, LibreOffice and BibTeX so you can easily add references to your work and create bibliographies.

You can easily sync your library of references between different versions of Mendeley and between different computers. The free version of Mendeley comes with 2GB free storage and over 2,800 citation styles, if you require more storage you can upgrade to a premium plan.

First steps

  1. Create an account with Mendeley. You can use the web interface to access your library, sync with other devices and import new references.
  2. Download the desktop programme, Android app or Apple app to your device so you can start adding any articles you have already downloaded to your Mendeley library.
  3. Install the MS Word plugin so you can insert references directly into your documents, and add the Mendeley Web Importer button to your browser so you can quickly add documents and webpages to your library.
  4. Start adding PDFs and references from your computer, Summon or your favourite database. If you are feeling confident you can set up a 'Watch Folder' which will automatically add any PDFs you download to your library.
  5. If you are already using a different reference manager you can also import these into your library.

Further guidance

Further help using Mendeley

In addition to Library support offered for Mendeley there is lots of guidance and support available from other websites:

Using Mendeley to organise your PDFs

Mendeley can help you keep your PDF files organised by putting them into subfolders and/or renaming them.

  1. Go to Mendeley.
  2. Click on Tools > Options > File Organizer
  3. Tick ‘Organize my files’. Choose a folder for Mendeley to store all your PDFs. This is a different location from your ‘Watched folder’
  4. Tick ‘Rename document files’. Mendeley will automatically rename all your PDFs according to the format you specify from the field available.
  5. Click ‘Apply’ to confirm.
  6. Now click on ‘Open folder in Windows Explorer’; you will see all your PDFs there, neatly organised.

If you want to annotate PDFs outside of the facility in Mendeley – edit the PDF saved here, not in your watched folder.

Getting started with Mendeley - Video

Mendeley for Researchers

Mendeley is both a reference manager and a social network and has lots of features to help researchers to connect and promote their work:

Word plugins - conflict between EndNote and Mendeley

The EndNote and Mendeley plugins in Word don't play nicely together, so you might experience problems if you have both installed. The most common error message seen is 'Cannot edit range' when trying to insert a citation from EndNote into a Word document.

To stop this happening you have to disable the Mendeley plugin by following these steps:

  1. Open the File menu in Word.
  2. Select Options then Add-Ins.
  3. From the Manage list at the foot of the window select Word Add-ins and click Go.
  4. Unselect the Mendeley add-in.

You will need to do this every time you open a document in Word.

Login FAQs

Clicking on 'Register' just takes you to the login screen

If you try to register for a Mendeley account and it just takes you to the login screen once you have entered your email address, this indicates that you have already registered that email address with another Elsevier product (for example, ScienceDirect or Scopus). You can use this same account to login to Mendeley. If you can't remember the password anymore, just click on the 'Forgot password' link to reset it.

Multiple accounts associated with your email address

If you have logged to Elsevier products such as ScienceDirect or Scopus via a link from the Library's website you might have created a 'shib' or 'oala' profile on the site. When you try to login to Mendeley it won't know which account to use. A message should appear informing you of the multiple accounts and an email sent to you. Just select the account with your email address and you'll be taken back to Mendeley to login. This should be remembered for next time.

Mendeley logs in with the wrong account (for example, a 'shib' or 'oala' account)

If you are stuck with access via an account you don't want to use, clear the cookies on your browser (see FAQ above for the reason why this happens),

Updated April 2019