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.
If you need help, contact Melissa or visit LibAnswers to browse frequently asked questions, chat live with a librarian (if available), or send a message to our library staff. We will endeavor to get back to you as quickly as possible.
Zotero is made up of three parts: Zotero Standalone, Zotero Connector, and Zotero Online. Each are freely available. You even get free unlimited storage courtesy of the Caltech Library if you sign up for Zotero Online using your @caltech email address! Please visit our Citation Management guide for details.
Zotero is like other 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
Collections allow you to group items together as you see fit. When you have Zotero Standalone open, collections appear on the left hand side under 'My Library' in the form of folder icons. Any item can be assigned to more than one collection. Just drag and drop an item onto the collection(s) you want that item to be associated with.
Tags (also called “keywords” in other programs) allow you to describe an item in more detail. You can add multiple tags to an item. Tags are also searchable. When you have Zotero Standalone open and a citation selected, the 'Tag' tab appears on the right hand side between 'Notes' and 'Related.'
Please visit our guide on organizing your Zotero library for detailed information.
When Zotero Standalone is open you can sort your citations by clicking on the headers in the middle pane to toggle between ascending and descending order. To add or remove headers, click on the icon in the top-right corner of the middle pane.
You can search Zotero Standalone in two ways. The first, Quick Search, is found in the top-right corner of the middle pane. The second, Advanced Search, is found by clicking on the magnifying glass icon in the top-left corner of the middle pane.
Please visit the following links for detailed information:
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.
See our guide on Citing While You Write with Zotero for more detailed instructions with images.
To create a bibliography from within Zotero Standalone, select a collection or group of citations, right-click and choose 'Create Bibliography...' A dialog box will pop up and you can choose citation style, output mode, and output method. Please visit our guide on creating a bibliography using Zotero for detailed instructions.
The most efficient way to create an annotated bibliography is to:
Write your description/evaluation of the citation in the Abstract field in Zotero Standalone (which you can find in the right pane if you have a citation selected).
From within Zotero Standalone, go Edit > Preferences > Cite > Styles and click on 'Get additional styles...'
From within the Zotero Style Repository search for "annotated" and select either APA 6th Edition (Annotated Bibliography with Abstract) or Chicago 17th Edition (Note, Annotated Bibliography) and add to Zotero.
When you are creating a bibliography, make sure you have selected APA 6th Edition (Annotated Bibliography with Abstract) or Chicago 17th Edition (Note, Annotated Bibliography) as your citation style (from Edit > Preferences > Cite > Styles > Style Manager).