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Introduction

This article shows how to link Mendeley and Zotero to a paid Overleaf account and provides two short videos which demonstrate how to add, and re-sync, Mendeley or Zotero references imported into an Overleaf project.

Note: if you don’t have a paid Overleaf subscription you can always export .bib data from Zotero or Mendeley and upload the resultant .bib file into your Overleaf project.

How to link Mendeley or Zotero

Start by selecting Account then Account Settings from the drop-down menu:

Overleaf account settings

Scroll down the list of Overleaf account settings to view the options for Mendeley Integration and Zotero Integration:

Overleaf account settings for Mendeley and Zotero

The following guidelines explain the processes for Link to Mendeley and Link to Zotero.

Link to Mendeley

If you select Link to Mendeley you will be prompted to log into your Mendeley account, if you have not already done so.

If you are not logged into Mendeley

You will see a Choose account screen. If you have multiple accounts they will be listed, so be sure to select the one you wish to use:

Choosing an Elsevier account when linking to Mendeley

Choose the account, provide the login credentials and sign in to complete the process of linking Mendeley to your Overleaf account. That’s all it takes!

If you are logged into Mendeley

If you are already logged in to your Mendeley account the following pop-up window appears, showing your Mendeley account login credentials:

Mendeley credentials screen

Select Connect account to complete the process of linking Mendeley to your Overleaf account. That’s it!

Your Overleaf Account Settings are updated

Upon successfully linking Mendeley, your Overleaf Account Settings will be updated to confirm your Mendeley account has been linked to your Overleaf account. Note that you can unlink your Mendeley account at any time.

Mendeley connected to your Overleaf account

Link to Zotero

If you select Link to Zotero you will be prompted to log into your Zotero account, if you have not already done so.

If you are not logged into Zotero

You will see a login screen. Provide your login credentials and select Login to Zotero.

Zotero login screen

After logging in you will be presented with the following screen:

Zotero Private Key screen

Select Accept Defaults to complete the process of linking Zotero to your Overleaf account.

If you are logged into Zotero

If you select Link to Zotero from your Overleaf account whilst you are currently logged into Zotero it will take you directly to the “New Private Key” screen shown above. Select Accept Defaults to complete the process of linking Zotero to your Overleaf account.

Your Overleaf Account Settings are updated

Upon successfully linking Zotero, your Overleaf Account Settings will be updated to confirm your Zotero account has been linked to your Overleaf account. Note that you can unlink your Zotero account at any time.

Zotero linked to Overleaf account

Using Mendeley

Once Mendeley is linked to your Overleaf account you can import references contained in your Mendeley library and keep those imported references synched with your Mendeley account. If you update reference data in Mendeley you can instruct Overleaf to update (Refresh) the references it has imported—the short videos below show how to refresh references imported from Mendeley (and Zotero).

Groups and folders

By default, the Mendeley import and synching feature brings in your entire Mendeley library; however, you can import, and sync, a specific group contained within your Mendeley account. At the time of writing, Overleaf does not yet support importing Mendeley folders.

To organize your Mendeley references for use with Overleaf you might wish to create multiple Mendeley groups, possibly with just one member—yourself! Those groups can contain subsets of your Mendeley reference library, based on different topics or subject areas addressed by your Overleaf projects.

Using private groups in Mendeley

Importing Mendeley references into an Overleaf project

The following video shows how Overleaf’s Mendeley integration can be used to import a .bib file containing references from a Mendeley group.

Using Zotero

Currently, Overleaf’s integration with Zotero supports importing the entire Zotero library only, we do not yet support importing a specific Zotero collection (folder).

Importing Zotero references into an Overleaf project

The following video shows how Overleaf’s Zotero integration can be used to import a .bib file created from data stored in your online Zotero library.

Notes on Overleaf’s integration with Mendeley and Zotero

Overleaf's integration with Mendeley and Zotero heavily depend on the features, and data, provided by their respective web-based API (Application Programming Interface). Currently, there aren’t any API options which Overleaf can use to control or amend the output generated by those API services and we don’t apply any modifications or conversions to the data we receive. The reference data contained within any generated .bib file, and added to your Overleaf project, is a copy of the data sent to us—used “as provided” and directly incorporated into the .bib file.

Citation keys

For given sets of references, the Mendeley and Zotero APIs do not always produce .bib data which is identical to .bib data exported from other products and services they provide. This can cause issues if you switch between use of web-based import via Overleaf’s integration and uploading .bib files manually exported from their equivalent desktop software—Mendeley’s Desktop exporter or Zotero’s desktop application.

For example, for a given set of references, the web API import process might, on occasion, and for certain references, generate reference-citation keys which differ from the citation keys generated for the same references manually exported from the corresponding desktop application. If you create a .bib file via Overleaf’s integration of Mendeley or Zotero’s web API and subsequently replace it by uploading a .bib file created by manual export, you may need to check for variations in generated citation keys which cause previously-working citations to fail.

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