Skip to main content

Need a book from the UC Berkeley Library during the shelter-in-place order? Check here first.

Mendeley: Build Your Research Library

This guide will help you use Mendeley, the reference manager and academic collaboration network.

Building your Mendeley Library

Below are several ways that you can add citations to Mendeley to build your research library:

Remember that all the citations added to your personal Mendeley library are also added to the database of citations that Mendeley shares with everyone. If you don't want a citation in your personal Mendeley library to be added to the crowd-sourced library (e.g., unpublished papers, personal manuscripts), check Unpublished work at the bottom of the document details. 

See also Mendeley's Guide to Adding Existing Documents and Guide to Finding and Importing New Content.


The Sync function will synchronize your library data to Mendeley Web, Desktop, and Mobile.

 Sync     Sync Settings

To edit Sync options, select All Documents in your Mendeley Desktop library. Then select Edit Settings to choose to have all documents or specific folders synced to your Mendeley Web account. Being selective about what you sync will help you stay within your Web Space storage limits.

Import / Drag PDF

A quick and easy way to get citations into your Mendeley Library is to drag PDF files or folders of PDFs into the middle pane of your Mendeley Desktop window. Mendeley will attempt to extract the citation information from the PDFs, and the new citations will show up in under Recently Added. If the extracted citation information is incomplete or missing, the citation will end up in Needs Review.

My Library       

You can also add your existing PDF files or folders to Mendelely using the Add Files menu in Mendeley Desktop.

Note: not all PDFs have information that can be extracted by Mendeley, and sometimes the citation information will be missing, incomplete, or incorrect. You may have to enter citation information manually, search the Mendeley catalog, or enter the DOI, PMID, or ArcXiv ID under Catalog IDs and use the Lookup (magnifying glass).

Import from Database with Web Importer

After installing the Web Importer (bookmarklet) in your favorite browser, you can use the web importer button (red Mendeley icon) on your bookmarks toolbar when you are viewing a citation record or list of search results in a supported database (including Web of Science, PubMed, Google Scholar). Be aware that the Web Importer may not always bring in all citations from your results list and/or may bring in incomplete citation information.

As you add the citation(s) to your Library, you can choose to put them in a particular folder. You can also choose 'download PDFs if available,' though this feature may or may not work well.   

Set Up a Watch Folder

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.

Enter 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.

FAQ: Where do the PDFs get saved on my computer?

Where your database files are stored depends on your operating system. The default location for the different operating systems is:

  • Windows 7,8,10: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Mendeley Ltd.\Mendeley Desktop\
  • Mac OS X: /Users/< Your username> /Library/Application Support/Mendeley Desktop/
  • Linux: ~/.local/share/data/Mendeley Ltd./Mendeley Desktop/

Importing Documents

The most common ways to import documents are demonstrated in this video (from 2011). 

Export from OskiCat or Melvyl

There is no direct way to get citations from OskiCat to Mendeley.

To import a record for a single item in OskiCat, use this work-around:

  • While viewing the item in OskiCat, click the UC Libraries and Beyond button on the right side, which will take you to search results in Melvyl.
  • In Melvyl, click on the title of the item from the results list. 
  • Choose Cite/Export from the upper right
  • Choose Export to EndNote / Reference Manager, which will produce a RIS file
  • In Mendeley, choose File-Import-RIS and navigate to the RIS file

To import multiple citations from Melvyl:

  • Register for a free account with WorldCat using the Sign in link at the top of the page
  • From the Melvyl search results page, check the boxes next to the citations you want to import, and use the dropdown above to save items to a new or existing list
  • View your list by going to My WorldCat and My Lists
  • Open the list and click on the Citations View tab
  • Select the citations you want to import
  • From the Export selected references dropdown, choose to RIS
  • In Mendeley, choose File-Import-RIS and navigate to the RIS file

Get Citations from Other Mendeley Users

You can search across the libraries of other Mendeley users to discover new papers on a topic. To do this, use the Literature Search option in Mendeley Desktop:

Literature Search

or you can click the magnifying glass on your dashboard in Mendeley Web to get to a Papers search:

Screenshot showing Mendeley Papers Search

Use Recommendations from Mendeley

A nice feature of Mendeley is that it can help you discover other papers that may be relevant to your research.


Related button

Select a paper, multiple papers, or a folder from your library in Mendeley Desktop and click Related to get a list of similar papers.

Mendeley Suggest
Suggest link in Mendeley Web

Suggest uses your area of study and the contents of your Mendeley library to come up with new articles that may interest you. You will periodically receive suggestions via email, or you can click on Suggest in Mendeley Web to retrieve the suggestions at any time.

Export from Database

In some databases, such as our ProQuest databases, the Save to Mendeley button does not work well. In that case, look for an option like Export / Save Citation, then save or export the citation in RIS format. Depending on the database, either do Direct Export - Open With - Mendeley. Or, save the RIS file and import it into Mendeley by choosing File - Import (or drag the file into Mendeley Desktop).

Export from Other Citation Managers

If you already have citations in another citation manager like RefWorks, EndNote, or Zotero, you can export the records into RIS, BibTeX, PDF or EndNote XML file format. Then back in Mendeley, choose File, then Import, to import the records to your Mendeley Library.

Copyright © 2014-2019 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Except where otherwise noted, this work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License.