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Transitioning from RefWorks

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.

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.

Importing from Refworks

  1. Start with our instructions on the Exporting from Refworks section of this site
  2. You must use the Desktop version of Zotero to import
  3. From the File menu, choose Import (Or Import from Clipboard, depending on how you have saved your RIS file)
  4. Follow the prompts and import references
  5. References automatically get added to My Library.  If you want to recreate a folder structure from Refworks, you may find it easier to make a New Collection first and import into that collection directly

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.