How-to series: How to copy & paste formatted citations anywhere (LaTeX too!) [part 5 of 12]

Have you ever had to quickly send a reference to someone by email or instant message (IM)? How about send a list of references at once? This can be quite a task if you have to open each PDF, copy the title, author, journal, year, etc. And format them in an email or IM reply.
For these cases, and anywhere you’d like to rapidly copy and paste one or multiple references, Mendeley Desktop has got you covered.
Here’s how:

  1. Open Mendeley Desktop.
  2. Find the folder or group of references you are interested.
  3. Select one or more entries using your mouse (you might need to use CTRL, SHIFT and/or CMD to select multiple entries)
  4. Use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+C (CMD+C for Mac) to copy. Alternatively you can use the menu “Edit > Copy”.
  5. In your email, IM, Google Docs or any other text editing field, paste the content you just copied. Do so by pressing CTRL+V (CMD+V for Mac) or the menu “Edit > Paste”.
  6. There you have it! Formatted references in a few quick steps. Select references, copy, and paste.

Quick note for those paying closer attention: you can also copy the references as LaTeX so the crafty LaTeX users can also enjoy the fun (CTRL+K or CMD+K for Mac)!
Another quick note: You can change the default formatting used in Mendeley Desktop by going to the menu “View > Citation Style”. There are quite a few styles to select from, so enjoy.

Stay tuned for the next entry in this twelve-part series of how-to posts. We’ll be going over supplementary data.

Previous How-to series entries:

Citing research is about to get a whole lot easier.

After the storm - raindrops on roses The most laborious part of any research paper for me, and probably for many of you, is making sure that the references are formatted in the proper style. Is the title supposed to be in italics? Do I need a period or a comma here? It has always seemed like exactly the kind of thing that a computer should be able to do for me, and now with Mendeley it can. Mendeley uses a system for formatting references called the Citation Style Language (CSL), which is sort of like HTML, but for citations. With Mendeley, you simply tell your word processor what citation style you want (picking from a library of thousands of styles) and our word processor plugin handles the rest.Read More »

Bibliographies here, bibliographies there, bibliographies anywhere!

If you are currently a Mendeley Desktop user, you will have already noticed that it comes with built-in plug-ins for Microsoft Word and OpenOffice Writer. These plug-ins are really useful for adding citations to your Word/Writer documents and build your bibliography dynamically.

Now, what if you happen to want to add a bibliography section in a document other than MS Word or OO Writer? No problem, we’ve got that covered! You have two options: copy & paste or drag & drop. Both alternatives are very similar.

First you open Mendeley Desktop and select the list of papers or references you would like to include in your bibliography (You can select as many references as you want). Use the normal multiple selection keys you would use to select multiple files in a folder elsewhere on your computer. In my case I’m a Windows/Linux user, so I press and hold the Ctrl key while I highlight the references I want to include.

Once you have all the desired references selected, you should pick which option you prefer: copy & paste or drag & drop.

Mendeley Desktop

To drag & drop, you simply use your mouse to drag the selected references all at once to your document of choice (text document, blog entry form, Google Doc, e-mail etc.) and drop them where you would like them to be listed. You’ll notice they are nicely numbered and formatted. How convenient!

If you prefer to copy & paste, just simply press Crtl+C or go to the menu option Edit > Copy citation and then paste your reference list wherever you like. Yes, also neatly ordered and formatted!


As mentioned before, you can copy & paste or drag & drop references into virtually any application or location that allows you to write text. Give it a try, use it to add references in your blog post, an email or anywhere else!

And yes, we know how much you long for the Word plugin for Mac… bear with us!