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Mendeley referencing software: Add References

Software that helps with referencing. In this guide learn about Mendeley and download Mendeley.

Adding References to Mendeley

References and PDF's can be added to either your


The two libraries will synchronize whenever Mendeley Reference Manager/Mendeley Desktop is opened.  The libraries can be synchronized at any time by clicking on the Sync button at the top right.

Sync button and Mendeley menu

You can add references to Mendeley directly from databases as you search for information online, or add PDFs already saved on your computer.

This video provides an overview of the ways to import references into Mendeley.


Mendeley Web Importer

A quick way to add references to your Mendeley Library is to install the Mendeley Web Importer into your web browser (eg; Chrome, Firefox).

This browser extension can automatically detect and gather the details (title, author etc) of most types of documents you may be viewing in your web browser.

To install the Web Importer, click on the link above, and then click the 'Get Web Importer for [browser name]' button. Click 'Add to [browser name]' and allow the Web Importer extension the permissions required. A small Mendeley logo will now appear on your web browser, most likely in the top right.

Mendeley logo

When you have source(s) open in your web browser that you would like to save to Mendeley, click on this Mendeley logo to open the Web Importer.

The first time you open the Web Importer you may need to log in to your Mendeley account.

The Web Importer will open as a popup panel on the side of your web browser. If Mendeley Web Importer is able to gather data from the website, it will list sources from the webpage you are currently viewing. Select the sources you would like to import into your Mendeley library.

Click the 'Add' button and the details of the references (including PDFs if 'Add PDFs if available' is selected in Settings) will be saved to your Mendeley library.

Mendeley Web Importer. one journal article selected, Add button.


When a green tick appears under the reference it has been imported. Example of successfully imported reference: PDF tick symbol. Reference tick symbol

For databases not supported by the Mendeley Web Importer it is better to import the references into Mendeley Reference Manager (or Mendeley Desktop) as RIS files. See Add references from OneSearch or databases for more information.

Add references from OneSearch or databases

Importing your references from a database is an easy way to add references to your Mendeley library. It's much faster than typing in the details of your references manually!

We have provided here examples from UWA's OneSearch and two of the biggest databases - Web of Science and Scopus. Most modern library catalogues or databases will offer some way in which you can export a list of selected references into a file type that can then be directly imported into a Mendeley Library. These files contain all the details of the reference, such as the title, author, year of publication etc.

The most common export file type used within Mendeley is called a .RIS (Reference Manager) file. Sometimes the export button given in a database will say RIS, sometimes it may say 'Mendeley', EndNote or the name of another referencing software.

'Export to a citation manager' options. Listed options: Refworks, RIS (EndNote etc), EasyBib...

Example export options from the ProQuest database (2021).

The RIS files downloaded from these databases will appear in your Downloads folder, and your browser's list of downloads. For example, files downloaded in Chrome appear in a horizontal bar across the bottom of the browser. Drag and drop RIS files into All References in Mendeley to import them.

OneSearch is the UWA Library Catalogue.  It includes all of the resources UWA Library subscribes to or purchases to support your studies so it’s always a good place to start your search for information. 

To export the details of a single item from OneSearch, click the EndNote/Mendeley RIS export button

Book in OneSearch search results. Mouse selecting item "EndNote/Mendeley (RIS)"

Click Download

The RIS fie downloaded will be called 'Primo RIS Export'. Either drag and drop this file into All References in Mendeley, or open the file, and select Mendeley as the app/program to open the file.

It's also possible to select and send multiple references from OneSearch to your Mendeley Library. 

  1. Begin by selecting individual items from your search results or from your OneSearch Favourites (pin symbol).
  2. Once items are selected go to the ellipses (...) above your search results or next to "My Favourites". 
  3. Choose the 'EndNote/Mendeley (RIS)' download option.
  4. Select the Download button to create a Primo_RIS_Export file, that will this time include the details of multiple references selected.
  5. Either drag and drop this file into All References in Mendeley, or open the file, and select Mendeley as the app/program to open the file.

Note:  Your "My Favourites" area is available to you when you log into OneSearch using your PHEME credentials. It is possible to 'tag' items in you have saved and then choose to export a tagged selection, see Using OneSearch for more information.  



In your search results, tick the checkbox next to the items you would like to export into Mendeley.

Click on 'Export' above the search results and choose the option 'RIS (other reference software)'

Web of Science export options. RIS (other reference software) selected

In the popup window, select the level of detail about the references you would like to export (basic info such as author and title, or Full Record).

Click Export

Either drag and drop the downloaded RIS file into 'All References' in Mendeley, or open the file, and select Mendeley as the app/program to open the file.

In your search results, tick the checkbox next to the items you would like to export into Mendeley.

Click on 'Export' above the search results.

Scopus search results. Two items selected, Export button.


Scopus and Mendeley are owned by the same company. This means your Mendeley account log in can be used to log in to Scopus.

If you are logged in to Scopus, select the Mendeley export option and click Export. The items will appear in your Mendeley library.

Scopus export options. Mendeley option selected



Alternatively, choose the option 'RIS Format'

Scopus Export options screen. RIS export selected.

In the popup window, select the information about the references you would like to export (basic citation info such as author and title, or also the abstract).

Click Export

Either drag and drop the downloaded RIS file into 'All References' in Mendeley, or open the file, and select Mendeley as the app/program to open the file.

When importing references into Mendeley, there's always a risk the data is incorrect. There could be spelling errors, formatting errors (eg; MAYBE THE JOURNAL ARTICLE TITLE IS IN ALL CAPS) or just incorrect information.

Always quickly double-check the references you import. If you notice any errors, you can correct them manually in Mendeley.

Click on the reference. It will open in a panel on the right hand side.

Click on any part of the reference to edit it. Type in the correct details

Reference in Mendeley Library. Authors section open for editing. Mendeley note "enter authors on separate lines"


Click elsewhere in Mendeley (on another part of the reference or on a different reference) and your changes will be saved.


Other methods for importing references

In your Mendeley Library click on + Add new and select 'File(s) from computer'

Add new. Option 1: Files from computer



A popup will open showing the folders on your computer. Select your PDF file (or files; you can select multiple PDFs to be added simultaneously).

Alternatively, drag and drop the PDF(s) onto 'All References' in your Mendeley library.

Mendeley will create the reference information and attach the PDF.

Locate the reference in Recently Added. Check that the reference information is correct and edit as necessary.

Note!  because Mendeley is automatically detecting the data from the PDF, there can be errors in the reference information. These can easily be edited manually.

Mendeley will not be able to detect the details from older PDFs that do not have a DOI.



Note: When attaching PDF copies of journal articles or other published material to references in your Mendeley library, be mindful of the following copyright considerations:

  • Under the copyright Fair Dealing exceptions, generally only one article per journal issue or 10% of a book can be copied. For more information on the Fair Dealing copyright exceptions, see the University Library copyright website.
  • Access to PDFs downloaded from Library databases is generally restricted to UWA staff and students, depending on the database licence terms. PDFs downloaded from UWA Library databases should be deleted from your Data folders when you leave UWA.

If it's not possible to add a reference to your Mendeley library from a PDF or import it as a compatible file type such as RIS, you can type in the details.

On the left side in your Mendeley Library click on + Add new and select 'Add entry manually'.

Mendeley 'Add new' options. 'Add entry manually' selected


A panel will open where you can enter the details of your reference (author, title, year etc). Ensure to select the correct reference type (eg; book, journal article, website). Click on 'Add entry' when finished.

To import multiple results from Google Scholar at once, use the Mendeley Web Importer browser extension.

Follow these steps to import a single item from Google Scholar.

The quality of Google Scholar citations is usually quite poor and so needs to be checked and corrected in your library.

1. Go to Google Scholar
2. Conduct your search.
3. Click on the IMPORT INTO REFMAN link for the reference you would like to save to your Mendeley library.

'Import into RefMan' link under an item in Google Scholar
4. An RIS file called 'scholar' containing the details of the reference will appear in your downloads. Either drag and drop this file into your 'All References' in Mendeley, or open the file, and select Mendeley as the app/program to open the file.


Setting up the Import into RefMan (RIS) option
It may be necessary to change your Google Scholar settings to set "RefMan" (the RIS file format that Mendeley can read) as the preferred Bibliography manager so you can see the 'Import into RefMan' option. 

  1. Click on the burger menutop left of the screen, then SETTINGS COGundefined
  2. Under BIBLIOGRAPHY MANAGER, select Show links to import citations into and choose RefMan: 
  3. Click Save

Scholar RefMan Select



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