Tools for University: Referencing with Mendeley

Image Description:
a young masculine presenting person sitting on a green grass field with a laptop and both arms raised, and fists clenched excitedly with superimposed text reading, “Referencing with Mendeley in 8 Steps”. 
End of Image Description

Referencing with Mendeley in 8 Steps


As tasks begin to mount moving further into the university semester, for some, coursework can be a big struggle. It can be especially hard to keep track of and manage references for essays for individuals who may struggle with executive dysfunction or staying organised due to their autism, ADHD, dyslexia, or other flavour of neurodiversity. So, Niko, an autistic university graduate, with a lot of experience managing all of this, has put together a handy guide to using Mendeley to help stay on top of your coursework.

Hello from Niko

Hi hello. This is (hopefully) a short Tutorial on how to use the Reference Management Software Mendeley, as well as its associated plug-in and extension. Using Mendeley helped me greatly in my Research Project, as I can organise the stuff I have to read through and reference them quickly and easily on my reports.

Step 1: Downloading Mendeley

This step is for downloading the Mendeley desktop app, Mendeley Web Importer, and Mendeley Cite for Word. You can also use this for other word processing software, like LibreOffice or Google Docs, but for this tutorial, we will be using Microsoft Word.

  • Download the desktop app on the Mendeley website.
  • The other parts can be installed via the desktop app (see image below).
Image Description: the tools drop down menu at the top left of Mendeley is circled to highlight the space where you can install Mendeley Web Importer, Mendeley Cite for Word and search for articles online.  
End of Image Description
Where to Install Mendeley Web Importer, Mendeley Cite for Word, and any other features.

From my own experience, and others, it is best to use your personal email when making the Mendeley Elsevier account because there was plenty of login issues when using your university email. However, remember that your university email is the one that gives you access to the articles in the first place. Thus, use personal email for Mendeley and use university email for accessing articles.

Step 2: Find An Article To Reference

  • When you get to the web page of the article, click on the Mendeley Icon on the top right of your browser.
  • I’m using Google Chrome, might be different on other browsers.
  • Once the extension loads, you can add the article and its PDF to your Mendeley Library by clicking Add.
  • In the image below, I made a Collection in my Mendeley desktop app called Sharky McSharkface. Thus, the article will be added to that folder as well as your overall collection of references.
Image Description: a pop up of Mendeley to the right of the screen with the add button over an article on thresher sharks.

End of Image Description
Adding a reference to your Mendeley Library

Step 3: Syncing Things Up

The image below shows the collection of references I have added to the Collection I named Sharky McSharkface. The reason why the Sync button is highlighted is that sometimes the reference don’t get added immediately to your library, so you have to tell the app to sync up whatever you added on the browser for it to show up on the desktop app.

Image Description:
the Sync button in the Mendeley library is highlighted at the top right hand side of the page.
End of Image Description
Syncing your references

Step 4: Reading on the Mendeley App

  • Once you have stuff added to the desktop app, you can just read it on the Mendeley app instead.
  • In this way, you don’t have those usual 50 tabs open on your browser. You can open multiple articles and shift through them via the tabs.
  • To go back to your collection, just click on Library next to the Mendeley icon on the top left.
Image Description: an article titled, "The skin The skin microbiome of the common thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus) has low taxonomic and gene function β-diversity" being viewed in Mendeley.

End of Image Description
Reading on Mendeley

Step 5: Mendeley Cite

  • Now to reference stuff on a report. Whenever you want to do that, go to References on Word and click on Mendeley Cite.
  • The green circle is where you can browse through your Collections (they’re just folders really…) and the red circle is for you to search terms in your Library.
  • You can search for the topic, authors, publishers, date of publishing, website etc. and the Mendeley Cite will browse through your Library to find what you’re looking for.
Image Description: the References tab of Mendeley Cite open on the right hand side of a Word document where the top dropdown box is for your Collections and the search box below is where you can search the your library.
End of Image Description
Using Mendeley Cite: Green Circle = Top Circle | Red Circle = Bottom Circle

Step 6: Adding That Citation

When you find whatever reference you’re looking for from your Library, you can add it by ticking it and clicking Insert 1 Citation.

Image Description:
Mendeley Cite open in the right hand side of word with a reference chosen by inputting a tick in the box to choose it.
End of Image Description
Citing: ticking it

You should then have the citation inserted automatically.

Image Description:
Mendeley Cite open in the right hand side of word with a citation inserted in the main document in APA 7 format, the citation tab displays other citation styles available.
End of Image Description
Citing: Inserting 1 Citation

Step 7: Changing Citation Style

  • You can then change the citation style of the document by going to the Citation Style Tab on Mendeley Cite.
  • Choose whatever citation style is required.
  • In the image below, I clicked Select another style and searched up the citation style for a Chemical Engineering Journal.
Image Description:
Mendeley Cite open in the right hand side of word with a citation inserted in the main document in Chemical Engineering Journal format, the citation tab displays other citation styles available under Select Styles with the option to search for and update the style of citation.
End of Image Description
Citing: Selecting Another Style
  • You can then cite as you type by having Mendeley Cite open.
Image Description:
Mendeley Cite open in the right hand side of word with citations inserted in the main document in Chemical Engineering Journal format, the references tab in Mendeley Cite displays other references for citation with the option to insert a bibliography.
End of Image Description
Citing As You Go

Step 8: Bibliography

  • Lastly, adding a bibliography is done by clicking More and then Insert Bibliography (see last picture in Step 7).
  • Ta-da, the bibliography is added wherever your cursor is!
Image Description:
Mendeley Cite open in the right hand side of word with bibliography inserted in the main document in Nature format, the Citation Style tab in Mendeley Cite displays other styles for citation.
End of Image Description
Inserting Bibliography
  • Also interesting to note that changing the citation style also changes the style of the bibliography.
  • The image above has the Nature citation style and the one below has the American Psychological Association 7th edition citation style.
  • Notice the change in both the referencing style and how they write the bibliography.
Image Description:
Mendeley Cite open in the right hand side of word with bibliography inserted in the main document in American Psychological Association 7th edition format, the Citation Style tab in Mendeley Cite displays other styles for citation.
End of Image Description
Changing Bibliography Style

And that’s it. From my experience, super helpful in organising your reading list and referencing stuff. Plus, it skips the chore of writing down references entirely.

3 Useful Resources for Autistic Students

1. The Autistic Guide to Starting College by AsIAm

This is a resource-packed website for autistic students by the Irish charity AsIAm. It includes videos of college students answering questions and a range of downloadable resources offering advice on so many topics, such as:

  • Communication and navigating social situations at university.
  • Revising for and managing exams.
  • Travelling and using public transport.
  • Doing the dishes.
  • Cooking a meal (they have lots of easy recipes!)
  • They even have a 360 degrees virtual tour of a college campus!

2. Preparing For Adulthood by Ambitious About Autism

Ambitious About Autism have a collection of resources informed by and/or made by young autistic people which cover a wide variety of topics. In this section, they have information on:

  • Thinking you might have autism
  • Making sense of your autism diagnosis as a young person.
  • Further education and training.
  • Work experience and employment.

The further education and training section is very comprehensive, and one of my favourite parts is definitely the Youth Patrons’ Blog. This blog details two young people’s lived experiences of education and accessing supports they needed, such as Disabled Students Allowance (DSA), which is a government grant available in the UK to help disabled students.

3. Autism&Uni Toolkit by various universities

Autism&Uni is a European Union funded project developed at Leeds Beckett University which created a format through which universities could develop and display resources to support autistic students. For example, UCL, University of Bath, and University College Cork, as well as many other universities across the EU have developed these toolkits. The toolkits typically includes information on:

  • Preparing for university.
  • Transitioning to higher education.
  • How to access supports and reasonable adjustments.
  • Healthy living.
  • Studying remotely and studying on campus.
  • What university is really like.
  • Accommodation.
  • Exams and studying.
  • The social aspects of university.
  • Student stories about their own experiences at university.

Bonus: Autism Awareness / Acceptance by the University of Edinburgh AS Group

This is something I got to help with and was created by my university’s autism spectrum group in April for Autism Awareness / Acceptance month and I just really wanted to include this here as a wee bonus. Not only does it provide some wonderful suggestions on ways to navigate the struggles of university life we may have as autistic students, but it also is just a fantastic resource to give to your place of education, as it suggests lots of ways to help better understand autistic students and make things better for us. The resource includes:

  • An introduction which outlines what autism is.
  • A guide to important terminology.
  • A page on the struggles autistic students may have and possible solutions.
  • Myths and misconceptions about autism.
  • A list of resources the authors, who are all autistic students, recommend.
  • An appendix of memes!

The Author

This post is made up of some resources emailed in to Practical Neurodiversity (both the Autism&Uni Toolkit at UCL and UCC were emailed) and some resources I have personally like. It was made by @pallyallywrites who created this space and who has her own personal blog,, where they write about psychology, neurodiversity, and life.