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Zotero Citation Software

Citation management tool for writing and collaboration.

Getting Citations

Zotero accommodates several methods for retrieving and storing citation information. Installing a browser connector is one of the easiest ways to collect citation information as you research. However, you can also add citations:

  • by identifiers
  • importing citation files, or
  • importing documents directly

Import from Browser

When the Zotero browser connector is installed, a Zotero icon will appear next to the browser address bar. The icon will change depending on the type of document or website it is viewing.

Examples: Zotero folder icon indicating collectionZotero icon indicating webpageZotero rolled newspaper icon indicating newspaper articleZotero blog iconZotero book iconZotero open book icon indicating book sectionZotero thesis icon

Clicking on this icon with the Zotero desktop application open will import any available citation information.

For single items, a window will pop up allowing you to choose where to save the citation. By default, it will chose the collection currently open in Zotero. If a PDF is available, it will try to download it as an attachment to the record. Zotero will also save a snapshot of the webpage. The window will disappear after a few moments, or after selecting a folder.

Save dialogue from Zotero browser connector

If multiple citations exist on a page, for example if you are viewing search results in a database, you will see a different window appear. The Zotero Item Selector will allow you to pick which items you want to import into your library.

Zotero Item Selector dialogue from browser connector

After making your selections, press the OK button. You will then be able to select where you want the citations to be saved.

📌 Please note:
Citations generated by Zotero are only as good as the metadata the program can identify. While Zotero is excellent at getting citation information from databases, for some websites it may only be able to capture minimal information comprising the website title, URL, and date accessed. You can manually edit these citations to add the relevant information.

Add by Indentifier

You can add some items to Zotero by identifiers. Identifiers that Zotero can recognize are:

  • International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

  • Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • PubMed Identifier (PMID)

  • arXiv ID

To add by identifier, click on the magic wand icon (). A dialogue box will appear.

Add the identifier in the text field by typing or pasting, then click enter.

Zotero will add the bibliographic data for the item. It will also try to download a copy of the item if it is freely available.

A bibliographic record appears

Manually Add Citations

To start manually adding a citation, either:

  • Select File > New Item > [Item Type]
  • Use the green "New Item" icon and choose the relevant item type.

Zotero will then add a blank item to your library. Add as much information as you can to the Info tab on the right side of the application. Click on the fields to edit or add information. Changes are automatically saved.




Importing Documents

Import files into Zotero by adding a stored copy of a file. Select the new item icon 

Next select Store Copy of File.

Store Copy of File option under the New Item menu

Navigate to the file(s) you want to add to Zotero, select files and press Open. Zotero will automatically try to pull bibliographic data from the file for the citation fields. If Zotero cannot generate this data, you will need to manually add this information. First, right-click on the file in your library and select Create Parent Item. Once the parent is created, you can manually add bibliographic data as needed.

You may also transfer files into Zotero by dragging them into your library from the file explorer or your desktop.

Import from Other Reference Managers

If you would like to switch to Zotero, they have created documentation for switching from other reference managers, such as EndNote, Mendeley, and Microsoft Word Bibliography format.