Universiteit Leiden

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Mendeley is a free programme that you can download to your own computer, but it can also be downloaded to the university computers, using your own account. 

This page will offer more in-depth information about the reference manager Mendeley. We also offer an online tutorial on this reference manager.

Before you can start working on your personal database, you will have to download Mendeley. Mendeley Reference Manager (the desktop version of Mendeley) is available on all university computers (Start --> All Programs). Twice a year the University provides an update of Mendeley. It is not possible to install an update yourself on a university computer in between. You may see a pop-up with the message Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device?, which you can ignore. 

Outside the university network you can also download Mendeley Reference Manager: 

  1. Go to Mendeley and make a free account 

  1. Download the software to install Mendeley on your computer. As soon as you have downloaded Mendeley, you can open the program. Here you will find your Library. This is where you will find all of your saved references. 


There are multiple ways to add references to Mendeley. You can do so by clicking Add New in your Mendeley library. 

Browser extension Mendeley Web Importer makes it really easy to add references to your library. Install it via this link or via your Mendeley library (Tools --> Install Web Importer). Once you have installed the Web Importer a button is added to your browser right at the top. You can use it to import articles, for instance from Google Scholar. 

If you have the PDF version of a text on your computer, you can import its reference by simply uploading the file to the Mendeley library. 

When importing references manually, first choose the right reference type, then fill in the different fields like author, title etc. You can always edit the information if needed by clicking on the reference or DOI. 

To import your downloaded BibTex/RIS/EndNote XML reference, simply click on Add new and choose the right file to add it to your library. 

Some databases, such as the Leiden University Catalogue, have an option to directly import references into your library. Others require you to create a text file, which you then have to import into your library. 

Organising references

Once you have added some references to your library you can add extra information to them like keywords, notes, a PDF or an URL. It is also possible to store and annotate articles in Mendeley.  

If you want to organise your references, it is best to put them into collections, rather than creating separate libraries. For example, it might be useful to create collections for separate subjects, or for different chapters of the paper you are working on. Your collections are visible on the left side of your library, and you can simply drag and drop references to the collections. References you have not yet sorted appear in the unsorted folder. 


Next to storing and organising references, Mendeley can be used to insert references into your Word document. By referencing properly, you keep your reasoning transparent and give proper credit to the authors of the work you used. The Plug-in for Word allows citing while writing your paper (install it via Tools à Install Microsoft Word Plug-in). For the plug-in to be installed correctly, Word has to be closed.  

When the Citiation Plugin is successfully installed, a Mendeley box will appear in the reference tab of Word.  

Insert a citation

The Insert Citation button in Word makes it possible to insert references from your Mendeley library directly into your Word document. After inserting your citations, you can also add a bibliography at the end of your document. New citations will be added automatically to the bibliography. Always check the imported references. If you need to correct or update a reference, doing so manually in Word will disrupt the bibliography. Therefore, always use Mendeley, rather than Word, to edit your references.  

Citation style

A citation style is a set of rules and formats that specify how to reference different types of sources. There are many different referencing styles, for many different disciplines (for instance APA, Chicago, MLA). Sometimes the differences in style look trivial, but they can be crucial. Your teacher, or the journal you want to publish in, will ask for a specific style. Mendeley has many citation styles available, and it is very easy to replace one reference style with another. You can adjust the citation style in the Mendeley box in Word. If a citation style is not in the list, click on 'Get more styles'. 

Read more about the Mendeley Citation Plugin or Citation styles

Sharing your library

Apart from creating folders, you can also create private and public groups. Groups allow you to invite people, share references, PDFs and notes. This allows other group members to look at exactly the same documents as you - useful when working together on a project.  

In Mendeley Web you can add titles to a group, invite, comment and connect with researchers over the world. You can also search for papers, people and public groups. You can present yourself as an academic by adding your research interests, publications etc. to your profile page. 

More information

For a more extensive guide on Mendeley, visit Mendeley’s Help Huide

We also offer our own online Mendeley tutorial.

Ask a Librarian if you have any more questions on this topic.

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