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Citation Management

Zotero Basics

Zotero logoZotero (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 download sources, and best of all it's free.

Zotero allows you to attach PDFs, notes and images to your citations, organize them into collections for different projects, and create bibliographies.

Zotero Workshop

This introductory workshop explores how to set up a Zotero library, save and organize references, and automatically generate in-text citations and a works cited list in the citation style of your choice.

This is a recording of a live virtual workshop on Oct. 4, 2023.

Installing Zotero

To use Zotero, you'll need to install two things:

  1. The Zotero application itself
  2. A connector to allow your browser to save citations to Zotero

Both of these are available from the Zotero download page.

Note: Installation of Zotero requires Administrator rights to the computer. If you are installing on a university computer and you do not have Administrator rights, you will need to contact your local IT staff to install this software.

Adding Citations to Zotero

Adding Citations to Zotero from a Database

You can add citations from most databases directly into Zotero. The steps will vary slightly for different databases, but in general:

  1. In the database, select the citations you wish to export.
  2. Look for an option to Export. Export your citations in RIS or BibTex format.
  3. Open Zotero (desktop version).
  4. From the File menu, choose Import.
  5. Follow the prompts to select the file you saved in step 2 above, and click Open.

Adding Citations via a Web Browser using the Zotero Connector

As you browse the web, Zotero will automatically find bibliographic information on webpages you visit and allow you to add it to Zotero with a few clicks.

  1. Make sure you have the Zotero Connector installed.
  2. When you are browsing the web or searching a library catalogue or database, look for a book icon, an article icon, or a file folder icon, beside the address bar in your browser.
  3. Click the icon to add the citation to your Zotero library. The folder icon indicates that you're viewing a list of citations; you will be prompted to select the citations you wish to add.

Zotero book icon

Zotero article icon

Zotero: select citations to export

Adding Citations for PDFs

It's usually best to add a citation for an item before you get to the PDF (i.e. when viewing the webpage with the HTML article and citation details); however, if you're viewing a PDF in your browser, look for a PDF icon to the right of the address bar. Click the icon to download this item.

If you have PDFs already saved on your computer, you can add them to Zotero by dragging and dropping the PDF files into the Zotero window. Zotero will extract the citation details from the document and create a library entry (note: this may not work for older PDFs).

You can also add add files as attachments to existing Zotero items by right-clicking on the item in Zotero and choosing “Add Attachment” or clicking the paperclip icon in the Zotero toolbar.

Word Processor Integration

Zotero offers word processing plugins for Word and LibreOffice. 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 ("Add/Edit 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 "Insert Bibliography" button. Your bibliography will appear, and new citations will be added automatically. Change bibliographic styles with the "Document Preferences" button.

The toolbar looks different on different operating systems and versions of Word. Mousing over the toolbar will show each button's function if they are not clearly labeled.

Zotero also integrates with Google Docs via the Zotero Connector. For further details see Using Zotero with Google Docs.

Downloading PDFs

If you wish to download full-text PDFs in Zotero, it is recommended that you do so by using the Zotero Connector from on campus or via Memorial's virtual private network (VPN). The Zotero Connector will add PDFs automatically as you add citations to your library, if you have it set up to do so.

To enable this feature in your Zotero preferences:

In your Zotero desktop application, open the Edit menu and select Preferences.

On the General tab, make sure the following settings are selected:

  • Automatically attached associated PDFs and other files when saving items
  • Automatically retrieve metadata for PDFs

You may also try locating PDFs by right-clicking on an article in your Zotero library and choosing "Find available PDF"; however, this is unlikely to work as well as the Zotero Connector method described above.

Library Lookup

You can use Zotero's library lookup feature to search for the full text of items in Memorial Libraries' collection.

To use this feature, you need to connect Zotero to Memorial Libraries using an OpenURL link resolver.

In your Zotero desktop application, open the Edit menu and select Preferences.

On the Advanced tab, in the OpenURL section, set the Resolver field to:

Screenshot of the Advanced tab of the Zotero preferences

Once you have updated this setting, you can use the library lookup feature to search for an article in Memorial Libraries' OneSearch. To do so, click on the citation you are looking for, then click the green arrow at the top of your Zotero screen.

Screenshot of the Zotero library lookup menu, found by clicking the green arrow that the top of the Zotero window.