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Switching Citation Managers

This guide will outline how to switch to a new citation manager like RefWorks, Endnote, Zotero, or Mendeley


Mendeley is designed to be a research manager like Endnote which handles primarily PDFs. There are some drawbacks to Mendeley, which may cause some users to want to switch to another citation manager, like perhaps Endnote.

On this page, we will outline the steps that you need to go through in order to transfer your Mendeley library to another citation manager.

Exporting your citations from Mendeley

To export your citations from Mendeley, you need to:

  1. Open Mendeley
  2. Select all your citations in your library by clicking on Edit and then Select All in Mendeley. Or you can press Control and A on a Windows computer or Command (The icon for the Mac Command key) and A on a Mac computer.
  3. Click on File then Export in Mendeley, like so:
    Selecting File then Export in Mendeley to export your citations
  4. Select where you want to save the file. The Desktop is often the best place to save this file, so that you do not forget where you saved it. Now click on the dropdown box labeled Save type as and select the RIS - Research Information Systems (*.ris) format. This format is the most compatible with all the other citation managers, so it's best to use this one. Like so:
    Saving your Mendeley library in the RIS format

Now your Mendeley library is ready to be imported into another citation manager.

Importing your citations into RefWorks

  1. Log in to your RefWorks account
  2. Click on References and then select Import
    Selecting References then Import in RefWorks to import citations from Mendeley
  3. Make sure the Import Filter/Data Source option is the RIS Format. Likewise, make sure the Database option is the RIS Format. Browse for the file you exported from Mendeley. Then click on Import to import your citations
    Selecting the RIS data source to import your Mendeley citations into RefWorks

Importing your citations into Endnote

  1. Open Endnote and select File then Import then File. Like so:
    Selecting File then Import then File in Endnote to import citations from Mendeley
  2. Choose the file that you want to import. Now select the Reference Manager (RIS) Import option and then click on Import.
    Selecting the Reference Manager (RIS) option in Endnote to import citations from Mendeley

Importing your citations into Zotero

  1. Open Zotero and click on the Gear icon and select Import. Like so:
    Selecting the Gear Icon then Import to import references from Mendeley into Zotero
  2. Select the file that you exported from Mendeley and click open
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