Skip to Main Content

Zotero for Citation Management

Quick tips and helpful links for getting started with the open source citation manager, Zotero. Easily collect and organize your references, and generate dynamic citations and bibliographies as you write.

decorative image.Adding references from a browser

If you installed the Zotero Connector for your browser, Zotero can automatically detect reference information on websites you visit. (Note: this information is only as good as what the website provides and may contain errors.) The icon for the Connector should appear somewhere in the toolbar of your chosen browser, and will change form depending on what Zotero is currently detecting. For example, a typical webpage will produce a page icon, while a page of Quick Search results will produce a folder icon.

To add a reference to Zotero:

  1. Open Zotero
  2. In Zotero, navigate to the folder where you want to store references
  3. In your browser, navigate to the page you want to add
  4. Click the Zotero icon, which changes based on what it detects, for example:
    • Page = web page
    • Page with text = article
    • Closed book = book
    • Open book = book chapter
    • Light bulb = patent
    • Folder = multiple items
  5. Zotero automatically adds reference information to your library

If you are using many search tools, including Google Scholar and the ISU Library's Quick Search, Zotero can detect information about multiple resources at once.

If you are using Quick Search:

  1. Make sure Zotero is running
  2. Click the Zotero icon while viewing Quick Search results in browser
  3. Use check boxes to select references
  4. Click OK
  5. Zotero automatically adds reference information to your library

decorative image.Importing references

Importing from another tool

If you are switching from another citation manager to Zotero, or have selected multiple references in a database:

  1. Export your citations from your previous software or database
  2. In Zotero, choose Import... from the File menu
  3. Select your file
  4. Click Open

If you wish to add a large number of citations to Zotero from a database, such as Google Scholar or one of the Library's subscription databases, you may want to batch export the items you want from the database and import that file into Zotero rather than using the Zotero connector. Most databases allow for citation information to be exported in a .RIS file, which can easily be imported into Zotero using steps 2-4 above.

Importing from a PDF

If you wish to extract bibliographic information from a PDF:

  1. Open Zotero
  2. Drag PDF into Zotero pane
  3. Zotero will automatically retrieve metadata for the PDF, if available

decorative image.Adding references manually

Adding items by identifier

If you already know an identifier, such as ISBN or DOI, for the reference you want to add:

  1. In Zotero, click the Add Item by Identifier button (looks like a magic wand)
  2. Paste/type in the identifier
  3. Press Enter/Return

Adding items by hand

If you want to add all bibliographic information for a reference by hand:

  1. In Zotero, click the New Item button (green +)
  2. Select the type of item from the menu (this determines what information you're asked for)
  3. Manually enter information in the right pane of Zotero

decorative image.Attachments

Attaching notes

To add a note to a reference:

  1. In Zotero, right click on the item and choose Add Note

Attaching files

To store a file, such as a PDF, as an attachment:

  1. In Zotero, right click on the item and choose Add Attachment...
  2. Choose Attach Stored Copy of File
  3. Select the file from your computer and click Open

Finding Full Text

When an item's record in Zotero contains a DOI, you can use the newest versions of Zotero to automatically find a PDF and add it as an attachment:

  1. Add the citation for the item you want to Zotero
  2. In Zotero, right click on the item and choose Find Available PDF

Zotero will then search for a legal PDF copy using a combination of direct access (for subscription journals) and Unpaywall (for Open Access versions). This means ISU users should be able to find PDFs through the Library's subscriptions by using Zotero from on campus. You can also configure Proxy preferences for off-campus access.

decorative image.More Help

For more help adding items, see Zotero's very thorough documentation.

Profile Photo
Dan Coffey
152 Parks Library