Zotero (pronounced "zoh-TAIR-oh") is an application that collects, manages, and cites research sources. It's easy to use, connects with your web browser to automatically download sources, and is completely free. Zotero was created for the Firefox browser and can also be used with Chrome. It allows you to attach PDFs, notes, and images to your citations, organize them into collections, tag them with keywords for different projects, and use over 8,000 citation styles to create bibliographies. If you want to synchronize your data across devices, Zotero lets you access your research from any web browser. It also supports collaboration and sharing—you can co-create papers or bibliographies and share materials with as many people as you’d like.
Zotero does have a few limitations. You receive 300 MB of storage when you sign up for a Zotero account. This is less than you receive when you sign up for other citation managers, but you can purchase more storage if necessary. In addition, while Zotero’s status as an independent, nonprofit organization that has no financial interest in your private information is a positive attribute, this means that user support may not be as robust as it is for other tools.
Use the Downloading and Installing Zotero tutorial for a step-by-step, interactive experience that will lead you through the process of installing the software on your PC or Mac.
Follow the instructions below to install Zotero on your computer.
There are a few different ways to add citations to Zotero.
If you click the magic wand icon (Add Items by Identifier) at the top of the dashboard, you can enter ISBNs, DOIs, PMIDs, or arXiv IDs to automatically add items to your library.
Another way to get citations into Zotero is to create them manually. If you click the plus icon at the top of the dashboard (New Item), you can choose a source and then type in information about the citation in the right pane of Zotero.
If you happen to have any PDFs on your desktop or in your downloads, you can simply drag them into Zotero, which will extract citation information from them.
The simplest way to add citations to Zotero is to use the Zotero Connector that you downloaded earlier. It should appear as a small icon at the top right of your browser window. You can use the Connector to add citations and, when they’re available, PDFs.
If you have a whole page of results, the icon will appear as a folder. When you click on it, you will be able to add any of the citations from your page of results to Zotero.
If you are looking at a single result, the icon will appear as a paper. When you click on it, you will be able to add that citation to Zotero.
You can collect citations in this way from any of the library’s databases, Google Scholar, Wikipedia, or other places on the web where you can find articles, books, archival materials, websites, etc.
In Zotero, citations are organized in folders that are called “libraries.”
Any time you add a citation, it is automatically added to your “My Library.” You can then create additional libraries and copy any or all of the citations in “My Library” to other libraries that you create.
You can create a library for a specific paper or writing project and fill it with all the citations that you might need for it.
You can also add tags to individual citations and then search by those tags. When you add new citations to Zotero, many of them come with tags that were assigned by authors or publishers.
If you click on a citation, you’ll see a pane on the right side of Zotero that shows “Info,” “Notes,” “Tags,” and “Related.”
You can add new tags here, as well as write notes about each citation for your own personal use.
When you downloaded Zotero, you downloaded a Zotero tab for Word. (If you used Chrome, you also downloaded a Zotero tab for Google Docs.)
When you open a new document in Word, you’ll see a tab for Zotero. If you click on it and then on “Add/Edit Citation,” you can begin adding in-text citations to your document.
The first time you click it, you will set up which citation style you’ll be using in your document. While there are about twenty preloaded citation styles, you have access to thousands more. You can also change the citation style you’ve chosen at any point, including after you’ve completed your document.
Once you’ve set up your preferred citation style, you insert each citation by clicking the “Add/Edit Citation” button and beginning to type a title or author. Once the correct one appears, click enter and an in-text citation will appear. You can continue adding citations as you write.
Once you’ve added at least one citation, you can put your cursor near the end of the document and click on the “Add/Edit Bibliography” button to add a bibliography. Even after doing this, you can continue to add new in-text citations and they will appear in the bibliography.
While you must have a desktop version of Zotero on your main computer, you can also link your account to an online version.
Online Zotero allows you to sync all of your citations so that they’re also stored in the cloud. In addition, you can create groups to share citations with others.
Whenever you add new citations to Zotero, you can click the curved arrow to sync your accounts.
You can also create or join groups to share citations with others using online Zotero.
Zotero Homepage: Download Zotero and learn how to use it.
GSU Zotero Library Guide: Jason Puckett, a librarian at Georgia State University and an expert in Zotero, created this very helpful Library Guide. It includes the following content:
In addition, ASU Library users have access to Zotero: a guide for librarians, researchers and educators (online) by Jason Puckett.
Zotero YouTube Videos: Step-by-step video instructions on Zotero by Nicholas Cifuentes-Goodbody.
Zotero Support: A knowledge base from Zotero arranged by subject.
Never forget to use the online HTML editor tools when it comes to composing or converting articles for the web.