Academic Referencing using Mendeley Desktop with Microsoft Word

Tutorial Video

I created a Tutorial Video on using Mendeley Desktop a few years ago, during the last stages of writing my PhD Thesis. Surprisingly it ended up being my most popular video ever and has reached over 300,000 views.

Creating an Account and Installing Mendeley Desktop

It is assumed you have already got Office 365 installed. If not see my guide Installing Office 365. In order to use Mendeley you need to go to the Mendeley Website and create an account. You can then Download and Install Mendeley Desktop alongside its Citation Plugin for Microsoft Word and Web Chrome Extension.

Go to the Mendeley website and click Create a Free Account:

Input your email and select continue:

Select Register:

Select Continue to Mendeley:

You can fill in more details about yourself, or alternatively select skip this step.

Now you can select Get Reference Manager:

You can then select Download Mendeley Desktop for Windows…

Once it's downloaded you can launch the setup.exe:

Accept the User Account Control Prompt:

Then select Next to begin the install:

Agree to the License Agreement:

Leave the Location as default and select Next:

Select Install:

The setup will now begin:

Select Finish and Launch Mendeley Desktop:

Sign into Mendeley Desktop

It will tell you that Mendeley Desktop is installed but the Citation Plugin for Microsoft Word is not:

You can select Install now to install the citation plugin (if Word or Outlook is open you'll be prompted to close them):

Now you'll see both are installed:

If this screen doesn't show, go to Tools, here you can install the Citation Plugin and the web extension. Since the Citation Plugin is installed, I will only install the Chrome Extension here:

Select Install Chrome Browser Extension:

Select Add to Chrome:

Select Add Extension:

The extension will be installed:

Adding PDF Articles to Mendeley Desktop

Most of the Research Papers you'll read will be in pdf format. Mendeley Desktop is itself a pdf reader but it is also designed to read and recognise Research Papers. Most Research Papers on official publishers websites will be automatically read by Mendeley Desktop and their Reference Details will automatically be filled in.

I'll make an example by dragging and dropping in 5 pdf papers.

As you can see their document details, including the Authors and Titles have all came up automatically:

We can open a pdf up individually in Mendeley. To the right hand side we see the details. This document has it's type, title, authors, journal, year, volume, issue, pages, abstract all automatically filled.

It also has it's DOI – Digital Object Identifier, ISBN – International Standard Book Number, ISSN – International Standard Serial Number and PMID – Pubmed Identification number.

You'll notice there is a lookup icon for each of these. Mendeley Desktop first looks for the DOI number, if it can find it, it picks up all the information for the DOI from an online database and is confident that it has the correct details. If it cannot find the DOI it looks for the ISBN and then PMID respectively. Finally if it cannot find any of these it looks for the Title and Authors and selects the nearest match. often a yellow balloon will show up on the top right hand side prompting you to check details when it has not found an article's details using a DOI.

We can look in turn at the information picked up from the other four papers:

As mentioned we can also read the paper using Mendeley Desktop:

Referencing with Microsoft Word

So essentially we begin by writing some text in Microsoft Word… leaving our cursor at the location we wish to place the Citation, then we select the Insert Citation Button:

The following menu will show. We can now select Go to Mendeley:

In Mendeley Desktop, highlight the article you wish to cite and then press Cite:

Your Reference will now display. Do not worry if it looks slightly different to the way you expect to cite. We will go through changing the Citation Style in a moment:

Next we continue on typing.

This time we will add another reference. This time we can use the shortcut key [Alt] + [ m ] opposed to clicking Insert Citation again:

And this time instead of clicking "Go to Mendeley" I am going to type in the search box. As I type Mendeley will bring up citations that contain the keywords typed in the search box. I want this citation so I will click on it using the mouse.

I could optionally search for an additional reference by typing in other key words but I only want one now, so I will select OK:

My second citation now shows:

I can now press [Alt] + [ m ] to insert a citation.

I will select Go To Mendeley:

I will select my third Citation and select Cite

Now I have 3 Citations:

I will now some additional text and add a fourth citation:

Again selecting Insert Citation:

Then go to Mendeley:

Then selecting the fourth Citation and selecting Cite:

Okay that's me got four Citations now:

Inserting a Bibliography

So I have typed my document and now want a Bibliography. I can then at the End of my Document create a Bibliography which lists all the Citations in the Document:

Select Insert Bibliography

Now the Bibliography will be shown:

Note: At present Mendeley only seems to support one Biblography. People asked quite a lot in my tutorial video if there was a means of creating a separate one for each chapter. It seems to be one of the most commonly requested features for Mendeley Desktop.

Changing Citation Style

I will now change the Citation style to one of the other inbuilt ones:

Here is IEEE:

Lets now change it to Nature:

Here is Nature:

Now I want to change it to a Citation Style which is not a default one. To do this select More Styles:

You will get a list of the Installed Citation Styles.

I will select Get More Styles:

As my discipline is Biophysics, I will search for the Institute of Physics:

It is then a case of selecting the Citation Styles you want and then selecting Install:

I will install the three listed:

Now select Done.

Unfortunately the Reference Style you installed won't be applied…

You'll need to go to More Styles… (again):

Now this type from the Installed list, you'll need to select your style and then select Use this Style:

It will be highlighted green now. Select Done:

Now the Reference Style is Applied and it is shown populated in the drop down list in Microsoft Word.

The Advantage of Manual Referencing

I have essentially setup my document up numerically with the form:

Text 1 [1], Text 2 [2], Text 3 [3] and Text 4 [4].

Where blue is a manual Citation and red is Mendeley's Citation. If I have forgot a Citation before 1 then I will get.

Text 1 [1], Text 1 [2], Text 2 [3], Text 3 [4] and Text 4 [5].

If I was doing it manually. I would need to change 12, 23, 34, 45, … which is fairly easy to do in such a simple document… but you would stress yourself out doing so in a document with 100+ Citations especially if some Citations are used multiple times. In Mendeley these are all updated. Select Insert Citation:

Go to Mendeley:

And then select the 5th Citation which will actually be the new first Citation:

As you can see all the Mendeley Citations are updated whereas the manual Citations remain with the wrong label:

The Citation Style Mendeley Gives me is "Wrong"

This is going to be one of your biggest banes using the Mendeley Desktop Reference Manager…

I am going to select the "Harvard" Citation Style. If I go to More Styles…

Then select Institute of Physics – Harvard and Use this Style:

Then select Done:

I now have the "Harvard" Citation Style:

If I leave it at that, I'll get bombarded with comments and dislikes:

"That isn't the Harvard Citation Style, the Harvard Citation Style looks completely different…"

Likely back in the day there was a Citation Style created in presumably a place called "Harvard University" called the "Harvard Referencing Style"… However unfortunately there was:

  • "The Harvard Referencing Style" created for Psychologists
  • "The Harvard Referencing Style" created for Creative Arts
  • "The Harvard Referencing Style" created for Archaeologists
  • "The Harvard Referencing Style" created for Environmental Scientists
  • "The Harvard Referencing Style" created for Physicists

It is said the British and Americans speak the same language however we have different standards, so much so, that the Yanks, our cousins across the pond can't even spell "standardisation" correctly.

  • Academics in "Great Britain" have decided to make their own improved version of the "Harvard Referencing Style".
  • This of course was followed by American Academics trying to "Make America Great Again" by improving on the "Harvard Referencing Style" again.
  • The Aussies decided to join in the fun and also make their own "Harvard Referencing Style".

Historically because they were all Academics, all in different disciplines and countries, who never spoke to each other it wasn't a problem… Nowadays the newer generation are all using Mendeley Desktop and because they are likewise Academics and hence "can never be wrong" all the Citation Styles are called "The Harvard Citation Style". This causes endless confusion for those starting out to Reference. You unfortunately need to go through with some brute force and select the Reference Style that closest resembles what you've been taught.

These are all the "Harvard Referencing Style"

Okay so I will ignore the debate on the right "Harvard Referencing Style" and use the IOP (Numeric) Citation Style again:

Using the Mendeley Web Chrome Extension

The Mendeley Web Extension will work best on the web pages of reputable academic publishers, to obtain the details about the article and if you've got permissions to download the pdf of the article… It will likely not work well too well on all websites but you should avoid referencing any old website, even this website or Wikipedia as they are not regarded by Academics as reliable sources.

I am going to go to a web page of a publisher to a Book that I don't have online access to… However I wrote this chapter so I have a printed copy.

What I can do is click on the Mendeley Web Chrome Extension:

I can then select Import to Mendeley:

Then save. If Mendeley can download the pdf it will but unfortunately i don't have online access to my own online book chapter… 🙁 The joys of Academia…

Now that it's added I can now select Web Library:

I can see it in the Web Library but not my Mendeley Library. This is because the two libraries are not synced. Mendeley Desktop usually only automatically Syncs when launched

However I can press the Sync Button:

This Book Chapter now shows:

Now Mendeley in general isn't as sure about Book Sections as it is about articles. Although this has substantially improved since the time I wrote my PhD thesis where Mendeley by default treated all Book Sections as Journal Articles. In this case the Editors are missing:

I can look up the details and add the Editors:

For the Editors field and the Authors field one needs to input the names as

Last Name, First Names

[Enter] will take you to a new line where you input the next Editor or Author again using

Last Name, First Names

Once happy I can select Details are Correct and cite it in my document as before.

Adding an Entry Manually

Now let's add something which we cannot find a link for online. Let's add a book chapter which has been accepted to be published. To do this select the Add drop down in Mendeley Desktop and select Add Entry Manually:

It is a Book Chapter so I will change the type to a Book Section:

Now I will type in the authors by:

Last Name, First Names

Pressing [Enter] to move onto the next author. Once again:

Last Name, First Names

Then [Enter] to get to the next author followed by:

Last Name, First Names

Once all the Authors are filled in, I can click into the next field and name in the name of the Book:

I can now click into the Year and input 2019:

I can type in the Editor using once again:

Last Name, First Names

I can click into the Publisher field and select Save:

I have forgot the title though, no problem. I can just click into the menu on the right and edit it:

That's me got the title now:

Once happy I can select Details are Correct and cite it in my document as before.

Deleting a Citation

My document now has 7 citations. I want to remove one:

Notice when I highlight text in Microsoft Word, the text is grey and the citation is dark grey. In order to delete a citation I must highlight the entire citation including it's brackets. I can delete it as normal:

I still have a Bibliography of 7 citations however…

I will need to press Refresh:

Now I have the Updated Bibliography with the 6 remaining Citations.

Although deleted in Microsoft Word, it still exists in Mendeley Desktop so it can be readily, re-added.

I'm going to copy it's DOI:

Now delete it:

Add Entry Manually Using a DOI

I am now going to select the Add drop down in Mendeley Desktop and select Add Entry Manually:

Now leaving all field blank, I will scroll down:

Paste the DOI in and click the lookup button:

It will find the article:

All the information will be filled in but the pdf itself won't be present:

Reordering and Refreshing Citations

So I can re-add this citation to the word document, giving me the 7 Citations again:

Now let's highlight everything. Once again text I've input is highlighted in light grey and text Mendeley has added is in dark grey:

I want to put the Book Section Citations before the Journal Article Citations:

I can do this by dragging and dropping the text (ensuring the two citations are highlighted including their brackets), alternatively I can cut [Windows] + [ x ] and paste [Windows] + [ v ]:

Now my Citations are reordered:

I must once again click on Refresh, to Refresh the changes:

Now the Bibliography is in step with the Citations and the order is listed numerically from start to finish of the document:

Merging Citations

So far I've had 7 individual Citations, I can simplify my text however and put multiple Citations together. I've done this with my two Book Section Citations. Now that they are beside each other I can highlight the Citations beside  each other and select Merge Citations:

Now they are merged, the manner they get merged will depend on the Citation Style:

I can merge more than two Citations. If I put the 5 Citations together for journal articles. I can highlight them and Merge them

Now the 5 Citations are merged:

4 thoughts on “Academic Referencing using Mendeley Desktop with Microsoft Word

  1. Hello,

    Thank you for all this.

    is it possible to add an hypertext link to the reference , where we click on the reference the associated paper will appear ?

    1. Not that I know of offhand. However it might be available for different reference styles.

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