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3 May, 2010

Mendeley, BibTeX and citing Website URLs

The Problem

  1. Using Mendeley Desktop (<3) to manage all my dissertation references, which automatically writes a BibTeX (.bib) for me which I include in my LaTeX document. So far so good.
  2. When I manually create an entry in Mendeley for a website, it creates a BibTeX entry like the following:
    author = {Surname, Name},
    title = {{Website Name}},
    url = {http://my.url.com/},
    year = {2010}
  3. That looks fair enough, but standard BibTeX/LaTeX simply ignores the url field in the entry… which makes the reference look rather stupid. So how can I handle websites properly?

What I hoped I would be able to find

  1. I wish Mendeley had some more advanced options which controlled how BibTeX files were created, this would have definitely been the most ideal option, but alas no such options exist. Editing the generated .bib yourself would be pointless since Mendeley will just overwrite the file each time.
  2. BibTeX itself could really do with an update in the website-citation department. I’ve seen lots of talk about new versions but can’t see where they are… Also I know there are alternative BibTeX packages which can be used, but this was something I wanted to avoid because sometimes you can’t tell what else it’s going to change in your references. For more information on the options, I recommend this link: URLs in BibTeX bibliographies

The Solution

  1. The best solution I could come up with so far, is to simply delete these references from Mendeley and put them in your own custom .bib file. Thus, you will have the Mendeley-generated bib file (which we’ll call mendeley.bib) and your own custom bib file for website entries (which we’ll call websites.bib)
  2. When writing your BibTeX website entries, be sure to use the howpublised field like so:
    author = {Surname, Name},
    title = {{Website Name}},
    howpublished = {\url{http://my.url.com/}},
    year = {2010}
  3. This will get BibTeX to correctly show the URL in the bibliography entry.
  4. Finally in your LaTeX document be sure to include both bib files, like so: \bibliography{mendeley,websites}

An Alternative

Actually, what I ended up doing in my dissertation is listing these “one-off” website references as footnotes rather than actual citations, since they’re not exactly publications. Obviously you will have to see whether this is applicable or not to you.


  1. I miss this field too.

    There is a post in the feedback forum. I recommend to all of those who want to have this feature, to vote for it in mendeley forum:



    Comment by Marcelo — 13 August, 2010 @ 10:49 am

  2. […] a separate, non-Mendeley bibliography for websites, as described here by John J. […]

    Pingback by BibTeX export in Mendeley: handling website links | Tech blog — 15 May, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

  3. […] для веб-сайтов и поддерживать её вручную, без помощи Mendeley. Либо не включать URL-ссылки в библиографию, а давать их […]

    Pingback by Экспорт из Mendeley в формат BibTeX: исправляем адреса сайтов | Исследования, анализ данных, Python и Ruby — 16 May, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  4. If you go into Mendeley, and enable the ‘Medium’ field for WebSite type entries, then you can copy the URL into that field. For whatever reason, that ends up in howpublished, and gets parsed by bibtex letting it spit out a URL in the bibliography.

    Full credit for this solution goes to Filipe: http://support.mendeley.com/customer/portal/questions/557951-web-page-latex-citation

    Hopefully Mendeley (<3) will get one of their mythical development team to make a more elegant solution at some stage ^^

    Comment by Alex — 17 August, 2014 @ 2:06 pm

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