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Mendeley: Installing and setting up Mendeley Desktop

A how-to manual for the reference management tool, Mendeley

Step 1: Download Mendeley Desktop

Mendeley Desktop has different features to the online version. Download the Mendeley Desktop by visiting the following page:

Kindly note that we still strongly recommend using Mendeley Desktop instead of the newer Mendeley Reference Manager. Mendeley Desktop has some features that are not yet available in Mendeley Reference Manager.

Step 2: Creating a Mendeley Account

When creating a Mendeley account, it is very important that you do not use the “Sign in via your institution” option, as SU does not have this integration with Mendeley. Also, when prompted to create a password, do not use the same password that you use for your SU accounts, as this may prevent you from logging in to the desktop applications.


To register for a Mendeley account, click here

Step 3: Install the web importer

The Web Importer allows you to save references while you are searching for information on any database such as ScienceDirect or even Google Scholar. Download the web importer for any web browser, by following the instructions you will find at:


Step 4: Install the Word plug-in

You need the Mendeley plug-in to be able to do 'in-text citations' and automatically add your bibliography based on your preferred referencing style. To install the Mendeley plug-in for Word or other devices go to  "Tools" on the Mendeley Desktop and click on "Install"... and select the plug-in you wish to add. 

Image displaying dropdown menu of Tools tab in Mendeley Interface

Selecting or installing your preferred referencing style

There are various styles that are used at Stellenbosch University. Most of them are standard styles that can easily be accessed via Mendeley Desktop. The default style for Mendeley is APA 7th Edition, so if you need to use a different style, then follow these steps:

In Mendeley Desktop, click on View and select Citation Style:


Your style might not appear in the submenu to the right. So you will have to click on More Styles...

Here you will find a list of installed styles and most of them, like APA 7, Vancouver and others can be used as is. However, Stellenbosch University also has its own Harvard referencing style and this custom style needs to be installed. In the same window as above, click on Get More Styles:

Copy and paste this link in the Download Style at the bottom of the window:

You can also just click on the link and it will automatically install the style in Mendeley Desktop.