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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.Citation Styles

Zotero comes with the most popular citation styles already installed. If the style you need is not included by default, there are more than 9,000 additional styles available through the Zotero Style Repository.

decorative image.Generating a bibliography


If you have a list of references and need to quickly generate a bibliography, consider using Zbib, Zotero's bibliography generator.

From Zotero

There are two quick methods for generating a bibliography in Zotero:

  • Drag a reference to any text field, and Zotero will format a citation for you.
  • Select the references you want. Right click, choose Create Bibliography from Selected Item(s)…, and select the format you prefer.

decorative imageWord processor integration

One of Zotero's most useful features is its ability to generate dynamic bibliographies within word processing documents. Changes and additions (including switching to a new citation style) are reflected at the click of a button, making it much easier to manage references in a document.

Start by installing the plugin for your word processor of choice. An official Zotero plugin is available for Word and LibreOffice, but users have developed additional plugins that enable you to use Zotero with LaTeX and Scrivener.

Zotero needs to be running for the plugins to work properly. The Word/LibreOffice plugin will create a Zotero tab in your word processor, from which you can add citations, generate a bibliography, choose a citation style, etc. Other plugins may work very differently.

To add a citation from your Zotero library in Word:

  1. Place your cursor where you want to insert your reference
  2. Choose the Zotero tab in the Word ribbon
  3. Click Add/Edit Citation
  4. Start typing an author name or keyword
  5. Select your choice from the list that pops up
  6. Hit the Enter key to insert the reference

To change the citation style in use:

  1. Choose the Zotero tab in the Word ribbon
  2. Click Document Preferences
  3. Choose the citation style manual you wish to use

If the citation style manual you wish to use is not in the available list:

  1. Follow steps 1 and 2 above
  2. Click Manage Styles...
  3. Click Get Additional Styles...
  4. Find the style of interest and click its name to install

When you're done with your document:

  1. Choose the Zotero tab in the Word ribbon
  2. Click Unlink Citations

This will unlink your citations from Zotero and remove the field codes. This may be helpful if you are getting unexpected outputs in your final documents. However, unlinking is permanent (you cannot easily re-link to make changes or updates), so proceed with care!

decorative image.Using Zotero with Google Docs

Installing the Zotero Connector for Chrome and Firefox now also installs a plugin for Google Docs. This creates a Zotero tab in your Google Doc and allows you to search and use your citations, and will add a bibliography to your document, among other features.

This means that you and a team can collaborate using a shared Zotero library and a shared Google Doc. (You and each member of your team will still need to download and install Zotero, not just the browser connector, for this to work.)

decorative image.More Help

For more help using citations, see Zotero's very thorough documentation.

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Erin Thomas
150 Parks Library
Iowa State University
515 294-9886