Who this guide is for

You are working on a manuscript in MS Word, using Mendeley as your citation manager. For whatever reason, you need to switch to LaTex. This is a guide to help make the transition easier. The whole process can be completed painlessly in under 5 minutes (if you follow this guide).

Why would I write a manuscript in MS Word, then switch to LaTex at the last minute?

MS Word is easy to work in, especially when Mendeley is used for managing citations (forget about EndNote), but LaTex is superior when it comes to formatting and typesetting your final document. I wrote each chapter of my dissertation separately in Word, but when the time came to assembling and formatting the final document, I found that working in LaTex actually made it much, much easier to do both tasks.

How do I export my manuscript citations from MS Word to Overleaf?

  1. Install this citation style (bibtex-3) and apply it to your Word document. Your bibliography will look like a mess, but that’s ok.
  2. Copy your main manuscript text over to your LaTex Editor. Replace all MENCITE{reference} citations with \cite{reference}
  3. Copy the entire messy bibliography over to the BibTex Tidying Tool.
  4. Under “values”, select
    • enclose values in curly braces
    • Use numeric values where possible
    • Escape special characters
    • Encode URLs
  5. Under “cleanup”, remove the fields “bait” and “abstractnote”

Now hit “Tidy”, et voila

Now, copy these formatted BibTex entries to a .bib file on your LaTex editor directory. Link to the .bib file within your .tex file by using \bibliography{bib_file_name}.


LaTex compilers will break if there are unescaped special characters (e.g., “&”, “%”, etc.). The Tidying tool escapes most of these characters, but is not able to pick up these ascii characters that look like empty spaces. Take a look at the screenshot below. The space between “current biology” and “CB” seems like two empty spaces. But highlighting them in sublime text shows that one of those spaces is not a simple empty space! You’ll need to remove these manually in your editor. Overleaf will highlight these in red.

Sneaky non-empty empty spaces

Overleaf highlights these non-empty spaces in red

This guide would have helped me save hours of troubleshooting. Hope it helped you as well.