January 31, 2012

Journal abbreviations in Mendeley

If you are using Mendeley for handling citations in your research papers, you might have run into the issue that by default it cannot generate journal abbreviations. Hence you always get the full journal name which is a bit problematic when trying to adhere to citation standards.
However, with the current Mendeley version this functionality actually exists (but is not advertised anywhere and there are some manual configuration to do). I have not come up with this myself, all credit to Robert Knight in the Mendeley support forum. I'm just copying his intstructions here so I can find it again later, since the original post in the support forum was a bit tricky to find among all the decoys.

You need to create a text file specifying the journal abbreviations to use. The original steps to do this were documented in the discussion at http://feedback.mendeley.com/forums/4941-mendeley-feedback/suggestions/83173-journal-abbreviations. The short version is:

1. Locate your Mendeley Desktop user data folder. You can do this by pressing Ctrl+Shift+D in Mendeley (Cmd+Shift+D on Mac) and clicking 'Open Data Directory'

2. Create a folder inside the data folder called "journalAbbreviations"

3. Within this folder create a plain text file called "default.txt"

4. On each line of the default.txt file, add the full journal name, followed by a TAB character, followed by the associated journal abbreviation. Note that the full journal name is case sensitive. See http://pastebin.com/raw.php?i=tVrUas82 for an example.

5. In Mendeley Desktop, when you change to a new style, the default.txt file will be read and the abbrevations will be used if the style specifies form="short" for "containter-title", like the Vancouver style does for Journal Articles.


  1. Thanks for the awesome tip.

    I played around and made a perl script that gets the journal names from your library (via BibTeX files) and builds and adds a default.txt file to the journalAbbreviations folder in the Mendeley data directory.