Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free application that collects, manages, and formats citations and bibliographies. Zotero also helps organize your research by allowing you to attach PDFs, notes, and images to your references. You can arrange your sources into collections for different projects and tag them for easy searching.

Workshop Schedule and Sign Up | Download Options | Setting Up Zotero Preferences | Managing Files and PDFs | Using Zotero with Word and Google DocsDocumentation 

Workshop Schedule and Sign Up

We'll have more Zotero workshops in the summer and fall. Stay tuned!

You are also welcome to make an individual appointment with a Research & Instruction librarian to learn more about Zotero and how to use it for your research.

Download Options

We recommend downloading the most current version of the application.

  1. Install Zotero 5.0.
    Zotero Download
  2. Install the appropriate connector for your browser of choice (Firefox, Chrome, or Safari). Download Zotero Connector

Setting up Zotero Preferences

Data Syncing

Data syncing merges library items, notes, links, tags, etc. between your local computer and the Zotero servers, allowing you to work with your data from any computer with Zotero installed. It also allows you to view your library online on zotero.org.

  1. The first step to syncing your Zotero library is to create a Zotero account (which is also used for the Zotero Forums).
  2. Click on the Edit menu and select "Preferences".
  3. Open Zotero's Sync tab and enter your login information in the Data Syncing section. By default, Zotero will sync your data with the server whenever changes are made. To disable automatic syncing, uncheck the “Sync automatically” checkbox in this section.

Zotero Preferences

Set Up the Location for Storing Data on Your Computer

It is important to know where the data is stored on your computer in case you ever need to reload your library from a backup. The default for the Zotero folder is not always intuitive (especially on Macs). Choose a file location that makes sense to you. Note: If you frequently use lab computers, you can map the location to your U:Drive so you can easily access your library from any lab computer. 

  1. Create a folder on your computer called "Zotero" (or whatever makes sense to you) in your documents folder, your U:Drive, or wherever seems logical.
  2. Click on the Edit menu and select "Preferences".
  3. Click on the "Advanced" tab.
  4. Click on the "Files and Folders" tab.
  5. Under "Data Directory Location", select "Custom".
  6. Click on "Choose" and locate the folder you created.
  7. Click "Select Folder" and restart Zotero.  

Zotero Data Directory

Set up Zotero to Use Check for Full Text
  1. Click on the Edit menu and select "Preferences".
  2. Click on the Advanced tab.
  3. Copy & paste the following into the "Resolver" field, under "OpenURL": http://resolver.ebscohost.com/openurl
  4. Click the OK button.
  5. If there is an item you are trying to find online, click on the "Locate" button (the green arrow to the right of the search box).  Locate.PNG
  6. Zotero will now use Check for Full Text to find the item online.
Creating Groups

With Zotero groups, you collaborate remotely with project members, set up web-based bibliographies for classes, and more. Learn how to create, share and set access permission for your group.

  • Share your own work or sources you have discovered with others who are working in related areas.
  • Collaborate with colleagues, publicly or privately, on ongoing research.
  • Discover other people with similar interests and the sources they are citing.

Managing Files and PDFs

Adding PDFs to Items

If you have added an item to your library, and want to attach an existing PDF, click on the PDF and drag and drop until it highlights the item in your library. For additional information, see Zotero's documentation on adding files to items.

Note: The library has a Pay Per View (PPV) program for journals we used to get in big packages from Elsevier (ScienceDirect) and Wiley. Be sure to save your PDFs, which can be added to your Zotero library.   

Adding Items from PDFs

You can now create an item in your library from an existing PDF. To do so:

  1. First, make sure Zotero's PDF indexing is up to date. To do so, click on the Edit menu and select "Preferences". On the "Search" tab, in the "PDF Indexing" section, click on the button that either says "Check for installer" or "Check for Update".
  2. Drag your existing PDFs into your Zotero library or use the “Store Copy of File” option from the add new item menu (green plus sign).
  3. Once they appear in the middle column, select the ones for which you wish to retrieve metadata.
  4. Right click on them and select “Retrieve Metadata for PDF”.

For additional information, see Zotero's documentation on automatically generating citation data.

Using Zotero with Word and Google Docs

Microsoft Word Plugin

Zotero Standalone automatically downloads the Word plugin that allows you to add citations and bibliographies. If you are using a Microsoft operating system, the Zotero toolbar will be found under the "Zotero" or "Add-Ins" tab by default. If you are using a Mac, the toolbar will be found under the Apple script icon or will appear as a small toolbar in the upper left corner of your screen.

Google Docs 

You can now drag and drop items directly from your library into a text file, such as Google Docs, and it will insert them as a formatted citation.

Adding a citation:

Select the item in Zotero, hold down the shift key, and drag and drop in the Google Doc.

Adding a footnote:

  1. Click on "insert" in the Google Docs menu, and select "Footnote"
  2. Select the item in Zotero, hold down the shift key, and drag and drop to the footnote at the bottom of the page.

Adding a bibliography:

  • Select items in Zotero and drag and drop in the Google Doc.
  • To add multiple items, hold down the shift key as you select adjacent items, or the CTRL key to select non-adjacent titles.
  • Having selected multiple items, you can also right-click (or CTRL-click) to "Create bibliography from items". The bibliography can then be saved as an RTF or HTML file, copied to the clipboard to paste into a document, or printed.
  • To use a different citation style, change your settings in the export tab of Zotero preferences. 

For additional information, see Zotero's documentation on Zotero and Google Docs.


Quick Start Guide (web page)
Quick Start Guide (PDF)
Complete Documentation