Mendeley Citation Plugin for Microsoft Word

Billed by Mendeley as a “reference plugin”, Mendeley Reference for Word “is an extension for Microsoft Word that allows (proprietary) reference management software such as Mendeley to be used in a seamless way”.

I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite plugins for Microsoft Word. A little background first: I write a blog that has generated a pretty hefty volume of citations (over 2,500) in the past 2 years, and it’s all thanks to Mendeley. So, what is Mendeley? It’s an academic social network with lots of cool tools to help researchers, writers, and students do their jobs more effectively.

There has probably been a time in your life that you did not want to include a reference to a book or article in your Word document, but didn’t know how. Enter Mendeley’s Citation Plugin for Microsoft Word. After installing the plugin you can click on the Citation Icon at the top of your Word document and choose between three style options, APA, Chicago and MLA.

Mendeley Citation Plugin for Microsoft Word

To create your free account go to and click the “Create a Free Account” button. When creating your account you can use whatever email address you would like, it is not necessary to use your FDU email address.

Mendeley will then ask a series of questions to complete your profile such as your area of study, academic status, and your institution. These choices have no effect on your account.

Once you’ve successfully created your account you can download and install the Desktop App. Mendeley also works equally well from the web based version which will sync with the Desktop App.

Installing the WORD plugin
Mendeley comes with a Microsoft Word plugin which allows you to insert citations and bibliographies in to your Word document without having to cut and paste or leave Word.

To install the plugin Word both Word and Outlook must be closed first. Next open the Mendeley Desktop App. Go to Tools >> Install MS Word Plugin. Then restart Word.

  • For Windows users the plugin will appear in the References tab of MS Word.
  • For Mac users the plugin will appear in the Add-ins tab of MS Word.

Installing the Browser Plugin
Mendeley also provides a Web Importer tool which allows you to import citations, and sometimes the full text article, directly from your browser in to your library.

To install the plugin from the Mendeley app click Tools >> Install Web Importer.

Depending on which browser you use the importer will be in a different location but regardless of the browser it will function the same.

In Chrome and Firefox the plugin appears in the upper right corner of your browser, while for Safari and Edge users, the Mendeley plugin shows up in the bookmarks or favorites bar.

Example of Chrome Plugin

Browser Security Conflicts
Sometimes there is a conflict with your browser’s security settings and the plugin. Follow the steps below to resolve this issue:


Click ‘Customise’ (three black lines on the top right of the screen), and then ‘Settings’. Click ‘Show Advanced Settings’ at the bottom of the page, then click ‘Content Settings…’ under ‘Privacy’. Then, under ‘Cookies’ click ‘Manage exceptions…’ and allow, then click ‘Done’.

Mozilla Firefox

Click the Menu button at the top right and click ‘Options’. Then, under the ‘Privacy’ tab, either set the ‘History’ drop down option to ‘Use custom settings for history’ tick ‘Accept Third Party Cookies’. Add to the ‘Exceptions’ box. Click ‘Save Changes’ to save.

These instructions are for Mendeley Desktop users, not Mendeley Reference Manager

Microsoft Word
Once you download and install Mendeley Desktop to a computer, you can install the Microsoft Word Plugin. Open the Desktop, then click on Tools > Install MS Word Plugin. You may have to close and reopen Word for the install to be completed.

Please note: All development for the Word Plugin has been ceased by Mendeley.

If you use LibreOffice on a Linux or Windows machine, you should be able to install the plugin by downloading and installing Mendeley Desktop and then clicking Tools >Install LibreOffice Plugin in the program window. Another option is to open LibreOffice Writer, choose Tools > Extension Manager… > Add; browse to: C:\Program Files (x86)\Mendeley Desktop\openOfficePlugin, choose the plugin in the browsing folder and open. For more help, visit the Mendeley Support Center (link below).

Mendeley Support Center
Mendeley support is available by Email, Chat, Twitter, and Facebook
Mendeley Citation Plugin
*Plugin can be installed with OpenOffice as well, but toolbar may not appear or function.

MENDELEY DESKTOP ONLY – Locating the Mendeley Toolbar in Word and LibreOffice
Depending on your operating system, the MS Word Plugin will appear differently. If you are using Word for Mac, you may have a ribbon tab or an Add-in, depending on your version of Word (Pictured: Word 2016 for Mac). Both will open a floating search bar, as seen in the Windows screenshot below.

Tip: You will need to enter a citation before you can select the Style, e.g.: APA, MLA, Chicago, CSE, etc.

Screenshot of Mendeley Word Plugin in the MS Word ribbon under the References tab

These instructions are for Mendeley Desktop users, not Mendeley Reference Manager

If you are using Word on Windows, the Mendeley Plugin will be integrated in the Word Ribbon. Unfortunately it closely resembles the Built-in “Insert Citation” tool in the Ribbon, so be careful to choose the “Insert Citation” with the Mendeley icon on it (Pictured: Microsoft Word 2013).

Tip: You will need to enter a citation before you can select the Style, e.g.: APA, MLA, Chicago, CSE, etc.

Screen shot of Mendeley plug in in MS Word References ribbon

The Mendeley toolbar in LibreOffice looks similar to the older style of Word for Mac.

Screenshot of LibreOffice showing location of Mendeley toolbar with “Insert Citation” dialog box open

Generating a Bibliography / List of Works Cited
These instructions are for Mendeley Desktop with Word Plug-in (Only)

The Bibliography or Works Cited section of your manuscript can be created and updated at any point during your writing process. Although you can make manual edits to in-text citations, you should not make manual changes to the bibliography. As the image below suggests, you should make any changes in Mendeley Desktop to the citation in the Details panel, then click ‘Sync.’ Next, come back to Word and click ‘Refresh’ in the References Ribbon to update Word to reflect the changes you made in Mendeley.

A screen shot of MS Word indicating the location of the ‘Insert Bibliography’ option in the Mendeley section of the References ribbon. An additional caption discussing making changes in Mendeley Desktop rather than Word to update any citation errors.

Tips for Your Bibliography:

Your bibliography will not appear until you place your cursor where you want it to appear and then click Insert Bibliography in the Word ribbon.
With each in-text citation you add, Mendeley will automatically create the full citation in the bibliography according to the style you select in Word.
We recommend making a Section or Page break between your Works Cited page and the rest of your manuscript in order to keep things separate.
Don’t forget to click Sync in Mendeley Desktop, then Refresh in Word in order to update any errors in the citation information (Details / metadata).

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