Western Libraries

Chemistry 4491E Library Information Session

Introduction to Reference Management Software

Reference/citation management software helps you organize the information sources that you find and automates the process of creating your bibliography. Many reference management software packages are available, each of them with their own strengths and weaknesses. Western Libraries doesn't subscribe to any of these packages, but we can help you get started using some of the more common ones.


Mendeley is a free reference management software system. Its features include the ability to manage, share, read, annotate, and cite reference papers. It supports private and public collaborations and offers 2 GB of online storage. 

Creating an Account

Mendeley has desktop and online components. You need an account to use Mendeley. Click the "Create a free account" tab on the Mendeley website to set one up.

Importing Citations

Citations can be imported from websites, databases, and PDF documents.

PDF file

Drag and drop a PDF file on your computer into your Mendeley Desktop. The bibliographic information will automatically be extracted and organized by title, author, year, journal title, etc.


  1. Go to Mendeley Web Importer.
  2. Click the "Download browser extension" to add the "Import to Mendeley" button to your browser's toolbar.
  3. Find the article you need.
  4. Click the "Import to Mendeley" button, and the article's details will display on the right hand side of the page.
  5. Click the "Save" button if the citation looks good.


Import references from databases using Mendeley's "Web Importer" OR using the .ris, .nbib, or BibText formats.

Inserting Citations Within Word

Download the Word plugin (from the Tools menu of Mendeley Desktop). Have both your Word document and your Mendeley Desktop library open. Citations from Mendeley Web cannot be inserted.

  1. Place your cursor where you want the citation to go in your Word document.
  2. Click the "Insert Citation" button on the "References" tab of Word.
  3. Enter a search term in the search box to locate the citation.
  4. Select the citation to insert.
  5. Click "OK."
  6. Add all necessary in text citations.
  7. Select the "Style" dropdown list.
  8. Choose a bibliographic style.
  9. Place your cursor at the end of your document.
  10. Click "Insert Bibliography."

Mendeley's Videos and Tutorials Site offers more tutorials.