Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Tips and instructions on getting started using the Mendeley reference management software.

About Mendeley

At its most basic level, Mendeley is a citation management tool, but it can also help with other aspects of research, such as:

  • Organizing PDFs of research papers, including annotations and highlights.
  • Inserting bibliographies and citations into a word processor.
  • Sharing research with collaborators.
  • Discovering articles in your field.

Get Started

1. Create an account

Creating an account is free with Mendeley. You may want to use a non-institutional email in order to ensure that you can access your account when you are no longer affiliated with the University of Illinois.

Your free account gives you 2GB of personal storage space and 100MB shared storage across all groups. With the free Mendeley account, users can create and own 5 private groups. There's no limit on the number of private groups free users can join, however each private group created by a free account can only have a maximum of 25 members. Mendeley also has a paid Premium account option which allows you to increase your personal storage.

Once you set up your account you can add details about yourself to your profile and link your Scopus profile.

2. Download and install Mendeley Reference Manager

Mendeley has both a web (browser-based) version and a desktop application. To get the most out of Mendeley, it’s best to use both of these.

Mendeley Reference Manager is the desktop application for Mendeley. It is best for storing, editing, and viewing PDFs on your computer and automatically creating citation data from the PDFs.

The first time you use Mendeley Reference Manager, you will be prompted to sign in. Use the account you previously created to do so.

3. Install the Mendeley browser plugin, Mendeley Web Importer

The Web Importer will allow us to import citations directly from databases, search engines, and other websites. It is available for Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari.

You may be prompted to sign in the first time you use the Web Importer; do so using your Mendeley account information.

If you run into issues, Mendeley has a Help Guide on the Mendeley Web Importer.

4. Install the Mendeley Word plugin, Mendeley Cite

This Microsoft Word plugin will allow you to create in-text citations as you write, as well as generate bibliographies. 

The download process for Mendeley Cite is a bit longer:

  1. Go to Mendeley's page for Mendeley Cite.
  2. Click the red "Get Mendeley Cite" button.
  3. You will be taken to Microsoft's AppSource. Click the blue "Get it now" button. 
  4. Sign in with your Microsoft account, and give permission to the app.
  5. You will be taken to a new page, which has a blue "Open in Word" button. Click on this, and if prompted, allow your browser to open Word.
  6. This should open a Word document which outlines the steps to find Mendeley Cite in Word.

Mendeley Reference Manager vs. Mendeley Web

Although Mendeley Reference Manager and Mendeley Web look similar, there are some feature differences that dictate how you will use each one.

Mendeley Reference Manager is the desktop application for Mendeley. It is best for storing, editing, and viewing PDFs on your computer and automatically creating citation data from the PDFs.

Mendeley Web gives you access to your saved research on the go and collect citations while browsing online databases.


Syncing Your Accounts

Syncing your Mendeley web account with Mendeley Reference Manager will allow you to access to your citation library in multiple locations. If you want to have the desktop application installed on more than one computer, syncing through the Mendeley Web account will keep the information up-to-date on all of your machines. The sync button is located in the upper righthand corner, next to your account name.

Screenshot of Mendeley Toolbar with Green Circle around Sync Button