Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

MIT Libraries logo MIT Libraries

Massaschusetts Institute of Technology logo Search Account

Citation Management and Writing Tools: Mendeley

A guide describing software to help with citation management, writing, and other parts of the research process.

Mendeley Reference Manager vs. Mendeley Desktop

Mendeley recently released Reference Manager, which can be used instead of Desktop. Which should you choose?

Reference Manager

  • not fully developed yet; the ability to watch folders, organize files, integrate with Zotero is not available
  • notes and highlights can be extracted and organized into notebooks
  • sign in using MIT touchstone (online account only)
  • good for citation management and annotation


  • includes PDF organization features not available in Reference Manager yet
  • highlights cannot be extracted
  • You need to create an account with an email and password - you cannot use touchstone.
  • not being updated

Get started with Mendeley

‚Äč1. Go to to create an account. Create a password, rather than signing in via your institution, as this login method does not work with the desktop versions of either software. Sign in from the MIT network to get extra storage.

Important notes about creating an account:

  • In some cases (such as if you have a pre-existing Elsevier account), you may be forced to sign in via an institution using Touchstone. To get around this, use a non-MIT email address. You will still get the extra storage. 
  • If you do create an account with Touchstone, rather than by setting a password, use the forgot password option at or contact Mendeley tech support and request a password. Indicate that you are an institutional subscriber.

2. Download Mendeley Reference Manager or Mendeley Desktop (see above box for more information).

3. Add the Web Importer to your browser.

4. Search for an article in a database. Click the Mendeley button to save a citation from a website.  

5. You will be prompted to sign into your account if you are not already. Mendeley will try to find the bibliographic information from that website. Choose a folder and click Save.

5. Install Mendeley Cite. See the help guide. Can't find your Mendeley Cite add-in? Look under Insert > My Add-ins. Mendeley Cite will not install on newer versions of Word due to how Office 365 is configured at MIT. See information below for options..


6. See the Mendeley Quick Start Guide for more information. Note that this is for Mendeley Desktop. Mendeley Reference Manager will look similar, but have fewer features.

Installing the Mendeley Word Add-in

The Mendeley Cite plugin will currently not install on some versions of Word due to how Office 365 is configured at MIT. Future IS&T upgrades will solve this issue, but in the meantime there are a couple options:

Option 1: Sign out of your MIT account

  1. Sign out of your MIT-affiliated Office 365 account in Word.
  2. Install Mendeley Cite from the Insert > Get Add-Ins menu in Word.
  3. Remain signed out of Word while using the plugin.

Option 2: Install the old Mendeley plugin

  1.  Download and install Mendeley Desktop. If you see a Mac security error when trying to install, you can dismiss the message using these instructions.
  2. If you have been logging into Mendeley with your MIT kerberos account, you will need a separate username and password to use Mendeley Desktop. Use the "Forgot Password" option when logging in to the application to create a separate password or contact Mendeley support.
  3. Login into Mendeley Desktop and install the Word plugin using these instructions.
  4. You can continue to use Mendeley Desktop or the newer Mendeley Reference Manager. Your citations should sync between both softwares.

Mendeley at MIT

With MIT's Mendeley Institutional account you get:

  • 100 GB of personal space in Mendeley (vs. 2 GB with the free, unaffiliated version)
  • 100 GB of shared space (vs. 100 MB with a free account)
  • the ability to create an unlimited number of shared groups with up to 100 members

Access our subscription:

  1. Create a Mendeley account if you do not have one. Do not choose sign in via your institution. This is not working with the desktop software.
  2. Sign into your account from the MIT network. Use the VPN if you are away from campus. If you do not automatically have access to the premium features, email us and we can manually add you to MIT's account.
  3. You must log into your account using the MIT network at least once during a 12-month period to maintain premium access. You will be notified 10 days before your premium access expires. If you have graduated, you can pay for extra storage or use the storage included with a free account (2 GB).

Integrating Mendeley and Zotero

Mendeley Desktop can automatically import citations and PDFs that are stored in Zotero. This can be a useful set up if you find that Mendeley Desktop does not import well from the databases you regularly search in. This function is not available in Mendeley Reference Manager.