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Managing your References:  Zotero

Why use Zotero?

Why use Zotero?


Zotero (pronounced "zoh-TAIR-oh") is a free tool that collects, manages, and cites research sources. It is easy to use and lives in your web browser where you do your research. Most commonly, Zotero is downloaded as a Firefox extension. However, Zotero can also be used with the Chrome and Safari browsers or used as a stand-alone tool. Zotero allows you to attach PDFs, notes and images to your citations; organize them into easily searchable collections for different projects; and create bibliographies using Word (for Mac or Windows) or OpenOffice

Advantages Disadvantages
Free, Open Source, User Friendly and can be used on mobile devices.Comes with 300MB of storage Must pay for extra storage space beyond 300MB
Great for importing records from non-traditional sources such as websites and video streaming. It works well with Google Scholar Cannot annotate PDF attachments
Proxy detection is automatic, making off-campus work with library databases easier. Duplicate references need to be removed manually
Library can be saved and moved to another citation management system if needed. Requires the install of 2 plug-ins if the Firefox Browser isn't used. 


Still unsure? Have a look at the Zotero Quick Start guide

Getting Started

Getting Started

Decide on how Zotero will best serve your research needs, will you be using it on your own devices? Will you be using it on campus? Or a combination of the both?

First create an account at

Using Zotero at home or on personal device

When you are at home, you only have to download the program an connector for your browser once on your PC

Zotero can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux

Using Zotero On Campus


When you log into the PCs on campus you will need to download the Zotero connector (plug-in extension) to enable it to work. Every time you log into a different PC you have to go through this process


If you are having trouble installing Zotero, please see staff at the Information Desk for assistance or see our help guides on this page.

Zotero browser plug-ins

Zotero offers a 'connector' (plug-in extension) to popular browsers including Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera.

The in-browser button allows for 'single click' collection of references from sources such as databases and webpages


Zotero program

Where the previous version of Zotero could be used only in-browser, Zotero 5.0 requires installation of its 'Research Assistant' (program window).

The browser connector integrates with the program to assist with importing records from the web.


The Zotero Download page has both options for download



Zotero for Mobiles

Zotero requires a bookmarklet to collect references via your mobile device to your account.

Note that this is only for collecting references (syncing with your online account) and there is currently no integration with mobile app word processors.


The Zotero for Mobile has information on third party apps written for a variety of mobile devices such as iOS and Android.

Collect your References

Collect your References

Zotero's main strength is it's ability to capture information from items quickly, if a full text pdf is available for the item then it will be attached automatically, provided it has a Capture icon (see below) in the address bar

Manual Entry

Items can be manually entered by clicking the New Entry icon then choosing the Resource Type.

You can enter as many or as few fields as you wish.


Share your References


Zotero Servers

Items synced via the Zotero Servers can be accessed at any time.This allows you to share your Library with others through your account.


You can create shared groups enabling collaborative management of resources. These Groups can be either Private, Public (Closed Membership) or Public (Open Membership)


Organise your References

Organise your References


Under the My Library heading in the left hand column you can create a folder to keep items related to a topic area, course code or subject together rather than in the main My Library area.

This is called a Collection

Eg: In the picture below Criticism and Plays are Collections


You can assign Tags to items in your library.

Tags are essentially your own metadata assigned to items your collection. These Tags can be used to quickly search (see below Quick Search/Advanced Search) and group items in a meaningful way.

Eg: The picture below shows some example Tags that have been entered.


Quick Search/Advanced Search

A Quick Search and can locate items in your library by using a keyword search or by entering a Tag (see above) into a single search box (see pic below).

If you require a more robust search (eg:Boolean operators, multiple keywords or tags), click the magnifying glass icon next to the search box, this will open the Advanced Search window.

Saved Searches

Advanced Searches can be saved in the left hand column under My Library, they look similar to a Collection yet the folder has a magnifying glass icon on it.

eg: In the picture below Criticism and Plays are Collections yet Hamlet is a Saved Search.

These Saved Searches will continually update items automatically within the folder that match the saved search strategy. 


Move your Library

You can move your library to another Citation Management System (CMS) by ensuring that the .RIS file has been exported correctly.

Refer to the information on the Zotero page on how to move your library to a different computer

To move your Library FROM Endnote to Zotero consult How do i Import Records from Endnote? 

Moving your Library FROM Zotero to Endnote is outlined in the Thomson Reuters YouTube clip below

Format your References

Format your References

Zotero is pre-loaded with twelve Referencing Styles within its Style Manager.

Within these initial twelve styles are MLA, APA, Vancouver and Chicago:

Additional styles can be added using the Get additional styles... link. For more information see Installing Additional Styles from the Zotero Styles Repository.

Interaction with Word Processors

One of the main functions of Zotero is that it interacts with a word processing program (Word, Pages or Open Office) to allow the inclusion of in-text citations while you write your essay, this is known as Cite While You Write (CWYW)

The main way that Zotero will interact with your Word Processing Program is through an integrated tool bar. This is installed automatically when Zotero 5.0 is first set up

The tool bar comes with many functions (Table below taken from the Using the Zotero Word Plug in page)

Add/Edit Citation          Add a new citation or edit an existing citation in your document at the cursor location.
Add/Edit Bibliography          Insert a bibliography at the cursor location or edit an existing bibliography.
Document Preferences          Open the Document Preferences window, e.g. to change the citation style.    
Refresh          Refresh all citations and the bibliography, updating any item metadata that has changed in your Zotero library.
Unlink Citations          Unlink Zotero citations in the document by removing the field codes. This prevents any further automatic updates of the citations and bibliographies.
Note that removing field codes is irreversible, and should usually only be done in a final copy of your document.


For more information on how Zotero works with your Word Processor go to the Using the Zotero Word Plug-in page

Synchronise your References

To use Zotero from multiple devices you can use Syncing. This keeps all of your libraries up to date with the latest version.


Help with Zotero

Help with Zotero

This section covers places to go if you need further assistance with Zotero.

Consult the Zotero Knowledge Base for basic usage guidelines.

See the Tips and Tricks page for shortcuts and Preferences for extra features.

Also check the Zotero Forums for any updates and news 

Below are links to other University Videos and Zotero Libguides 

Boston University

Emory Libraries and Information Technology, Atlanta

Georgia State University

JoMC Park Library, University Of North Carolina

Rice University, Houston


Zotero Videos

Zotero has produced a large collection of Video Tutorials

Official Zotero Screencast Tutorials

Also Zotero has a Channel on YouTube

Help and Information

Zotero Overview

References can be added to a Zotero library in many different ways:

  • directly from databases,
  • journal websites,
  • Google Scholar,
  • the Library catalogue,
  • by reference file import (for example from an EndNote library),
  • by dragging in PDFs from your hard drive, and
  • through manual entry.

Download from the Zotero Home Page