Western Libraries

MME9641 Library Session and Project Support

Intro 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 when you are writing. Many reference management software packages are available. Each of them has its 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, e.g. Mendeley.


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 a desktop and an online component. You need an account to use Mendeley.. Click the "Create a free account" tab on the Mendeley website.

Importing citations

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

  1. 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.
  2. Webpage: For the first time, go to Mendeley Web Importer. Click the "Download browser extension" to add the "Import to Mendeley" button to your browser's toolbar. Find the article you needed on the Web, click the "Import to Mendeley" button, and the article's details will display on the right hand side of the page. If all looks good, click the "Save"button.
  3. Databases: Import references from databases, using Mendeley's Web Importer OR using the BibTex (.bib), .ris or .nbib 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. Keep in mind, you cannot insert citations from Mendeley Web.

  1. Place your cursor in the place you want the citation to go in your Word document;
  2. On the References tab of Word, click the Insert Citation button;
  3. In the search window, enter a search term to locate the citation you need;
  4. Select the citation to insert and click OK.
  5. When you are done with the in-text citations, you can create a bibliography from the Style dropdown list, choose a bibliographic style. Place your cursor at the end of your document, then click Insert Bibliography.

Check Mendeley's Videos and Tutorials Site for more tutorials.