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Mendeley Guide: Saving articles and references

Ways of saving references

Save References to your Mendeley Library

There are several different ways of saving references. For example, you can

  • Drag the article PDF file from your computer to your library. 
  • Safe references and documents from databases and websites by using the Mendeley browser extension, Mendeley Web Importer.
  • Save references from databases as .ris-, .xml or .bib files. 
  • Search and save references directly from Mendeley. 
  • Add references manually. 
  • Import references from other reference management software as .ris-, .xml tai .bib files
  • You can save references and PDF files to your library through Mendeley Reference Manager both in the browser version and in the desktop app. Reference information is also updated into the Word add-on, Mendeley Cite. 

 If needed, use the sync button.

Saving PDF-documents to Mendely

You can save PDFs from your computer by using Add new -> Files from computer function or simply by dragging documents straight to your Mendeley library by using the browser version or the desktop app. Mendeley will search for reference information in the document and save them into your library with the PDF file. Check and correct the information if needed. 


Saving references using Mendeley Web Importer

Mendeley browser extension, Mendeley Web Importer, is usually the easiest way to save references from a website or database.

  • Click the Web Importer icon and choose the references you wish to save.
  • You can also save the full text PDF file.
  • You can also choose into which folder you want to save the reference in your library (My Library menu).
  • Hover the cursor on top of the reference and click the pencil icon that appears on the reference. Here you can edit the reference information. Check that the publication type and other information is correct and modify if needed.


Image: PubMed 

Saving references as RIS, XML or BibTex file

If saving references with Web Importer does not work, most databases allow you to save references as files, which you can then import into your Mendeley library. You can use either the browser version or the desktop app to save references. The same method also applies to importing references from another reference management software, such as RefWorks. 

  • In the database, choose the references you wish to save by checking the checkbox (exception: in Ebsco databases you choose the references by clicking the folder icon, and then go to Folder view).
  • Find the button used to save references. In most databases it is the Export button. 
  • Choose either RIS, XML or BibTeX as the format. 
  • Save the references from the pop-up window: Save File -> OK 
    •  You can also try Open with -> Browse... Find Mendeley from the list of apps. The file will be directly imported into your library.
    • Sometimes the file is saved as a .txt file. Make sure that the file is saved in the correct form (.ris, .xml or .bib) and fix it if needed.


  • Drag the file into your library OR choose +Add new -> Import library -> choose the correct file format and retrieve the saved file from your computer.

Direct Export from Scopus

  • First sign in to Scopus with your Mendeley username and password
  • Choose your references and click Export -> Save to Mendeley
  • The references are directly imported to you library.

References Directly from Mendeley

  • Mendeley Search allows you to conduct a search in articles already saved into Mendeley and save the reference information to your own library. You can access the search by clicking Search (magnifying glass icon) -> Papers.


Click +Add to library to save the reference information and the full text PDF (if available) to your library. Remember to check the reference information.

Adding references manually

Mendeley Reference Manager allows you to add many different publication type references manually.

  • Click +Add new -> Add entry manually
  • If you give the DOI identifier, Mendeley will prefill the information based on it. 
  • Choose the correct reference type and fill in the required information. 
  • Check that the information is correct and click Add entry


Importing references to Mendeley from databases

Database Import file Web Importer
ACM Digital Library Export Citations – BibTeX yes
ADS Astrophysics Data System Export – in BibTeX / in RIS no
Ebsco Export – Direct Export in RIS Format / Citations in XML / BibTeX format – Save yes
Google Scholar Cite – RefMan (exports RIS file) / BibTeX yes
IEEE Xplore Export – Citations – BibTeX / RIS no*
MathSciNet Batch download: Citations (BibTeX) – Retrieve yes

Export – RIS**

Medline (Ovid) Export – RIS no
Oula-Finna, Arto Export reference – Export to BibTeX / RIS yes
ProQuest All save options – RIS no
PubMed   yes
SciFinder-n Download results – Citation (RIS) no
Scopus, ScienceDirect Direct export (log in) yes
Web of Science Export to other file formats – BibTeX yes

no* - Web Importer works in the reference-specific view.