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Mendeley: Build Your Library

This guide provides on overview of how to use Mendeley to create a personal database of references that can be inserted into documents created with Word.

Importing From EndNote, Zotero, Etc.

If you already use Zotero to manage your references, you can set up Mendeley to continuously import any documents you add to Zotero.

If you currently use Endnote™ or RefWorks for reference management, you can easily import your library into Mendeley:

  • ‚ÄčExport your library from EndNote (.xml format) or RefWorks (.ris format) and name/save the file accordingly.
  • In Mendeley, import this file you just created:
    • Web: Click "+ Add" and select one of the options.
    • Desktop: Go to File > Import and select one of the options.

Filters in Mendeley

Mendeley has default filters that appear in the left-hand pane of your library, much like common email tools. These filters are helpful for navigating the contents of your library and locating items within your library:

  • Recently Added
  • Recently Read
  • Favorites
  • Needs Review (lists any items which Mendeley has imported, but may require extra attention)
  • My Publications
  • Unsorted

Folders in Mendeley

Mendeley allows you to create folders and subfolders to organize your library by topic, project, or other logical grouping.

Mendeley differs from some email or file systems in that putting an item in a folder does not move the item to that folder. Instead, the folder functions more like a label. This way, you can delete a folder after it is no longer relevant without deleting the contents of that folder; the articles that were in the deleted folder will still be under "All Documents."

For more details, see the Mendeley Guide on Organizing Documents.

Do you already have a lot of articles/PDFs?

Mendeley can often read through a PDF and create a record for the item based on the information it finds. You can load files individually or even upload a whole folder of PDFs.

Note: Mendeley will try it's best to create an accurate record from an article. Most PDFs that are directly from the publisher do well, but you should always check for any errors. 


You can have Mendeley 'watch' certain folders on your computer, then as PDFs are added to these folders they get imported into Mendeley automatically. Choose File - Watch Folder in Mendeley Desktop.

Using the Web Importer

After installing the Web Importer in your favorite browser, you can use the Save to Mendeley button on your booksmarks toolbar. As you add a citation to your Library, you can choose what folder to add it to and assign tags or notes.

The Mendeley website states, "The Mendeley Web Importer is compatible with Science Direct, Google Scholar listings, PubMed and many many other online catalogs." However, if you are using an EBSCO database, see the information below.


Using the Web Importer will save the references to Mendley Web. Don't forget to use the Sync button in Mendley Desktop to ensure that you have the same references in both versions of Mendley.

EBSCO Databases

FSU Libraries subscribes to many databases provided by the EBSCO company. The Web Importer does not work well with EBSCO database, but you get references from those databases into Mendeley by following the steps below.


  • Add results to the Folder. This can be done for each article or by page [Share > Add to folder: Results (1-10)]
  • Now click on Folder View.
  • In the Folder, click on Export on the right.
  • Click on Save. Make sure the 1st radio button is selected (Direct Export in RIS Format).
  • A dialgue box will open at the bottom. Save the file to a place where you can locate it easily, such as the Desktop.


  • Click on File.
  • Mouse over Import and select RIS - Research Information Systems (*.ris).
  • Locate the RIS file that you saved.


Be sure to double check that there are no problems with the imported citations.

Enter a Citation Manually

Under the Files menu or the Add Files drop-down (Add Document in Mendeley Web), there is an option to enter citation information manually.

Where are my PDFs in Mendeley Stored?

Mendley saves PDFs to the cloud so you can access them from anywhere. However, Mendley Desktop can also store the PDFs on your hard drive.

To see where the files are stored, go to Tools > Options > File Organizer

Note also that Mendley will automatically rename your PDFs to provide more consistency.


This page is based on the Mendeley guide provided by Mississippi State University Libraries.

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