This is a brief overview of Zotero. Please visit our citation management guide if you would like comprehensive information including step-by-step instructions with images.
Three Zotero components, in combination, give you the full functionality of the application. Each are freely available.
Zotero Standalone is a required component of Zotero 5.0. Click here to download Zotero Standalone for your operating system. The program is installed locally on your computer (much like other citation management programs).
Zotero Connector is important if you want to collect citations directly from your web browser. This component works as a browser extension/add-on and it is available for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. If you’re searching through a database and find an article, click on the Zotero Connector icon in your browser’s toolbar to add it to Zotero Standalone.
Zotero Online is important if you want to sync your Zotero citations across different computers or to share your citations with collaborators. Start by creating a free Zotero account here and then sync it with Zotero Standalone by adding the username and password you’ve created to Edit > Preferences > Sync. Use your @caltech email address for free unlimited storage courtesy of the Caltech Library!
Zotero operates in a similar fashion to most citation management software. You can use it to collect and organize citations, take notes, create bibliographies, and to insert citations into a document while writing. However, Zotero is a tool that is only as good as the metadata you put into it; if you have incomplete or inaccurate metadata, you will have incomplete or inaccurate citations!
There are several ways to collect citations with Zotero. Some of the most common ways to capture citations include:
Collecting Multiple Citations from Google Scholar, Web of Science, PubMed, or similar indexes and databases
Collecting Single Citations from Google Scholar
Collecting Single Citations from Web of Science or PubMed
Zotero offers plugins for word processing programs including 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.
If you do not see the Zotero toolbar when you open your word processor, in Zotero Standalone go to Edit > Preferences > Cite > Word Processors and install or reinstall the program.
The toolbar will allow you to search for citations in your Zotero library and change citation styles. If you need additional citation styles, you can add them from Zotero Standalone or from within your word processor. From within Zotero Standalone, go to Edit > Preferences > Cite > Styles > Get additional styles. From within Microsoft Word, go to Zotero > Document Preferences > Manage Styles.
Click here for more detailed instructions with images.
If you need help, contact Mel or visit LibAnswers to browse frequently asked questions, chat live with a librarian (if available), or send a message to our library staff. We'll get back to you as quickly as possible.