What is Zotero?
Zotero (pronounced “zoh-TAIR-oh”) is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.
With Zotero, you can:
- Create and manage citations of books, articles, websites, videos, etc.
- Import citations directly from databases, the library catalog, or Google Scholar
- Add searchable notes and tags to citation records
- Attach article and chapter PDFs and images to citation records
- Easily and quickly create a bibliography in a variety of reference styles (APA, MLA, etc.)
- Automatically manage in-text citations in Microsoft Word or LiberOffice/OpenOffice
- Easily share references with others
NOTE: Before installing the Zotero software be sure Microsoft Word is CLOSED, otherwise the plug-in that connects it to Zotero will not install properly.
- Download and install the Zotero program (availble for Windows, Mac, and Linux)
- Install a web browser connector (available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari)
- Register for a free Zotero.org account (enables saving, syncing, and sharing)
- Sync your Zotero.org account with your Zotero Standalone account
- Add citations to Zotero
- Create bibliographies (Microsoft Office or Google Docs)
- Share and collaborate
Zotero provides the ability to save references from most library catalogs and databases, and even some regular web pages, with one click. (Zotero publishes a list of compatible sites, and many sites not on this list also work.) If Zotero detects that you’re looking at a book or article on a catalog, database, or a site like Amazon.com, LibraryThing or the New York Times, you’ll see a book or page icon appear in the address bar of your browser. Just click the icon and Zotero will automatically save the citation.
If you’re on a page of search results with many items, you’ll see a folder icon instead. Click this to get a list of all the items on the page, and check off the ones you want to save.
It’s easy to attach files (like PDFs) to items in your Zotero library. Just drag the file into your Zotero pane. Dropping a file onto a collection, or in between library items, will copy it into your library as a standalone item. Dropping it onto an existing item will attach it to that item. This is the easiest way to attach a copy of an article to its entry in your library.
Each item also has an Attachments tab in the right column. You can attach files by clicking the Attachments tab and then the Add button.
Create a Quick Bibliography
It’s easy to create a bibliography from your Zotero library.
Select the references or collections you want to include. Hold the control key and click to select multiple items. Right-click one of the selected items and choose Create Bibliography.
Choose the bibliographic style you want, select Copy to Clipboard, click OK and paste into your word processor.
This method works with any word processor (or anywhere you can paste text).
Cite While You Write
Zotero offers word processing plugins for Word and OpenOffice. The plugin adds a Zotero toolbar to your word processor that allows you to add citations to your document while you write.
To add a citation, click the first button (“Insert Citation”) on the toolbar. Search for the reference you want to cite and press Enter. Zotero will add the citation at your cursor.
At the end of your paper, click the third button (“Insert Bibliography”). Your bibliography will appear, and new citations will be added automatically. Change bibliographic styles with the last button on the toolbar (“Set Doc Prefs“).
Add More Citation Styles
Zotero comes with the most common bibliographic styles, but many more are available to download.
- Go to the Zotero Style Repository page.
- Search for the name of the style you need.
- Download the style (right-click the Install link and choose Save As).
- Open Zotero preferences. Click Cite, then Styles, then the “+” button, and select the style you downloaded (a .CSL file).
The new style will appear in Zotero’s style lists.
If you’re regularly using more than one computer in your research, Zotero’s sync feature can keep your library up to date on all of them. Zotero can store a copy of your library on the Zotero.org server and check it for updates whenever you open your library on a different computer. All your computers must be running the same version of Zotero.
First, set up a (free, of course) Zotero.org user account. Then:
- Open Zotero preferences (via the gear menu) and select the Sync tab.
- Enter your Zotero user name and password.
- Check the “sync automatically” box.
- Check both boxes under File Syncing and choose Zotero storage for My Library. This will sync your PDF attachments as well as citations (more info).
- Click the green circular arrow button at the top right corner of the Zotero window.
- Zotero will upload your library to the server.
Repeat this configuration on each of your computers. Any updates you make on one of your computers will be reflected on the others. This even works to synchronize your library among Windows, Mac and Linux computers.
For more details and help troubleshooting sync problems, check the Zotero site.
Zotero’s Groups feature allows you to share references with other Zotero users online. It’s a great way to work on collaborative research projects.
- To create your own shared library, click the Create Groups button near the top left of your Zotero window
It might look like a small blue/green button with two “people” icons, second from the left OR a drop down file folder menu item
- To join an existing Zotero library, search for it at zotero.org/groups or be invited by the group’s owner.
- You must login to the zotero.org website to create or join a group.
You now have two sections in your Zotero collections pane: My Library and Group Libraries.
Personal and group libraries are entirely separate, and changes made to items in one library do not affect the other. You can drag items back and forth libraries to copy items.
It’s easy to add PDFs to your Zotero library and automatically import their citation info.
First, enable PDF indexing on the Search tab of Zotero’s preferences. Zotero will download and install a small plugin.
Next, just drag your PDF files into the Zotero pane.
Right-click the PDFs and choose “Retrieve Metadata for PDFs.” Zotero will retrieve their citation data from Google Scholar and turn them into citeable items with PDF attachments.
If Zotero can’t find a match on Google Scholar, don’t worry — you can still save the citation from another catalog or article database, then drag the PDF onto the citation to make it an attachment.
Add Items by ISBN, DOI, or PubMedID
Have the book in front of you and want to add it to your Zotero library without having to search for a citation?
If you have a book’s ISBN, an online article’s DOI or PMID number, just click the magic wand button: “Add item by identifier.” Type in the book or article’s number, and Zotero will automatically download its information and save it to your library.
When viewing items in your library, select an item from the middle column then hold down the “Option” key on Mac OS X, the “Control” key on Windows, or the “Alt” key on Linux to highlight all collections that contain that item.
Press ”+” (plus) on the keyboard within the collections list or items list to expand all nodes and ”-” (minus) to collapse them.
To see the number of items in the selected library or collection, click an item in the middle column and use theSelect All shortcut (Command-A on Mac OS X or Control-A on Windows and Linux). A count will appear in the right column (attachments are included in the count when visible, i.e. when the parent item is expanded)
This guide is based on a guide created by Jason Puckett and licensed by Georgia State University Library under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.You may reproduce any part of it for noncommercial purposes as long as credit is included.