Mendeley is one of the many reference management tools which are freely available. The other such free tools include CiteULike, JabRef, WizFolio and Zotero, to name a few. NTU Libraries would like to recommend you to try Mendeley as it is free and fairly easy to use. This guide will give you an overview of Mendeley and help you decide whether it is suitable for your needs. We will create similar guides in future if we have more information about other reference management tools.

Currently NTU Libraries provides training and support for EndNote. If you would like to learn more about EndNote, please visit our EndNote page here.

What is Mendeley?
Mendeley or EndNote?
Comparison between EndNote and Mendeley
Installing Mendeley


Similar to EndNote, Mendeley is a reference management tool which helps you to organize your references, add citations into documents and automatically generate bibliographies according to the citation style you have selected.

As a reference manager, Mendeley is great for users who do not deal with large number of references, PDFs or require customization of citation styles.

What is Mendeley?

  • Mendeley is compatible with Windows and Macintosh.
  • Mendeley has both desktop and web-based version, with features to sync references across devices (Desktop and mobile devices like tablets).
  • Mendeley has most of the citation styles. It allows modification and creation of new citation styles.
  • Mendeley has useful PDF file handling features which:
    • Allows organising PDF files into folders for easy access (E.g., recently added & favourites).
    • Allows draging PDF files directly into Mendeley from desktop or folders.
  • Allows opening of multiple PDFs in separate tabs.
  • Allows sharing annotations within groups (Every time annotations or highlights are added it will be visible to members of the group).
  • Mendeley has social network features which allows you to:
    • Search through millions of papers used by other Mendeley users. In a way it helps to save time (Time spent on searching) and it also helps you find similar research papers with the Mendeley Suggest button.
    • Share references and papers with collaborators.
    • Join public discussion groups and network with other researchers among Mendeley users.
  • Mendeley has features to share and collaborate with groups as large as 50. It allows real-time editing and sharing.

For more information about Mendeley refer to this URL:

Mendeley or EndNote?

So which tool should you use? Here are a couple of points to consider when choosing a reference manager.

How do you gather references and which databases do you use?

For example if you have  downloaded most of your reference articles in PDF format, you could consider Mendeley as it involves dragging and dropping the PDF files (references) from the downloaded folder to Mendeley. Most databases provide options to export references to EndNote and Mendeley directly. Google Scholar settings provide links to import citations directly to EndNote but not for Mendeley. So if you use Google Scholar extensively, EndNote could be your first choice.

Are you working with collaborators?

It is convenient and helpful to use the same bibliographic management software as your collaborators.

Comparison between EndNote and Mendeley

EndNote Mendeley

EndNote is great if you

  • Manage a large number of references. Example: Researchers & PhD students have to use bibliographic management software for a few years to write their thesis or dissertation.

Mendeley is great if you

  • Manage a small number of references. Example:
    Students who use bibliographic management software for a semester or a year for their final year project.
  • Ideal for organizing citations for papers and theses.
  • Can handle a large number of references.
  • Good for managing PDFs.
  • Can share citations and documents with others.
  • Desktop software and web-based.
  • Desktop software and web-based.
  • Free for NTU users. EndNote Web has certain limitations and functions compared to EndNote desktop. EndNote Web has unlimited web space for NTU users.
  • Free with 2GB of web space.
Learning curve
  • Takes longer to learn, but not difficult with training.
  • Quick to learn, simple interface.
Export feature
  • Export references from compatible databases into EndNote. Simple to import records from most research databases.
  • Export references from compatible databases. Mendeley also retrieves bibliographic details for PDFs that are imported. However, the import from databases does not work with as many databases as compared to EndNote.
Searching within PDFs (Highlight & make notes)?
  • Yes, but search is not intuitive.
  • Yes. Highlights the words that are searched. Comparatively better PDF features.
Are records in the library viewable by others?
  • Yes, with limited options to share.
  • Yes, if you choose to share them. You can set up individual and group profiles and share records.
Can you export records to other citation software?
  • Yes.
  • Yes.
Does it work with word processing software?
  • Yes. Powerful formatting and customization features in Word; also works with LaTeX through BibTeX and OpenOffice.
  • Yes. Works with Word and OpenOffice. Also works with LaTeX through BibTeX.
Does it back up your records?
  • No.
  • Yes.
Other important features
  • Has a "find full text" option to download full text for records (It has limitations).
  • Good for collaborative work.
  • Back up option helps to sync multiple computers.

Installing Mendeley

Here are the steps to install Mendeley:

Step 1: Sign up for Mendeley

You will need to create an account before you download.

Step 2: Install Mendeley Desktop

This is for the desktop version which allows to synchronize with the web version.

Step 3: Install the web importer.

This tool is useful for managing reference-type websites.

Step 4: Install the Mendeley Plug-in for MS  Word.

To install the Mendeley Plugin, close Word and open Mendeley Desktop.
Then go to Tools > Install Plugin

It is important to install this so that you can insert citations from Mendeley into your Word document.

The plugin is compatible only with the following word processors:

  • Microsoft Word
  • LibreOffice
  • BibTeX

Details can be found here:





FAQ on Mendeley




Q: Can I use Journal Abbreviated style in Mendeley?  If yes, which style do I use?




A: Yes, there are default journal abbreviations in Mendeley for many styles which you can
choose to use. You can also create your own list of journal abbreviations.




Q: Which databases provide the option to directly export citations to Mendeley and which databases do not? How do I overcome this?
A: Please refer to the list of databases below.




Scopus Use direct export function “Save to Mendeley”.
ScienceDirect Use direct export function “Save to Mendeley”.
Engineering Village Import via Bib Text (.bib) or use Web Importer "Save to Mendeley".
Emerald Insight Import via Bib Text (.bib) or use Web Importer “Save to Mendeley”.
Web of Science Import via Bib Text (.bib) or use Web Importer “Save to Mendeley”.
IEEE Use Web Importer "Save to Mendeley".
JSTOR Import via Bib Text (.bib) or use Web Importer “Save to Mendeley”.
Ebsco Import via RIS (.ris).
SciFinder Import via RIS (.ris).
Factiva Can only import via PDF. Even then, no citation information will be provided.
Reaxys Can only import via PDF. Even then, no citation information will be provided.




For those databases that do not have the direct export function, you can:




  • Install the Web Importer
  • Import via PDF




Q: Do I need to convert to plain text before submitting?
A: It is not necessary but you can also export without the Mendeley fields.

Guides and Videos

Mendeley has made guides and videos for self-paced learning here: