Skip to Main Content

Zotero Citation Software

Citation management tool for writing and collaboration.

Using Zotero in Word Processors

Zotero can be used in several word processors to add citations to documents as you write. By using Zotero, you can easily switch citation styles, generate bibliographies automatically, and make bulk updates to citations. For more information about using Zotero in different applications, see sections below on Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and LaTeX editors.

To use these functions you will need to have the Zotero Desktop application open, and have plug-ins installed in the word processor or browser (for Google Docs).

Zotero has several powerful functions for citing your sources. 

Feature About
Add/Edit Citations

Click "Add/Edit Citations" within the text to insert a new citation at your cursor. A dialogue box will appear allowing you to search your library and insert citations. See Add Citation Dialogue Box for more information.

If you need to edit a citation, place your cursor within the in-text citation and select "Add/Edit Citations" to make changes. The dialogue box will reappear and you can change your source or make edits to the existing citation.

Add/Edit Bibliography

Use "Add/Edit Bibliography" to insert a bibliography in your document. Any sources cited in-text will automatically be added to the bibliography.

If you need to add or delete references, click within the bibliography an select "Add/Edit Bibliography." Here you will be able to move sources in and out of the bibliography.

Document Preferences

Use "Document Preferences" to change your citation style. You can easily change the style or switch between endnotes and footnotes. Zotero comes with a small number of styles automatically loaded into the program, but there are thousands of more styles available. 

When you first use the plug-in in a document, this menu will automatically load.

Refresh Refreshes your citations. If you make changes within the Zotero desktop program, use "Refresh" to update the citations in Word. This will also update bibliographies created within the document.
Unlink Citations

"Unlink Citations" will convert Zotero citation fields into text. This cannot be undone. It is best to save a version with Zotero links before converting your citations, in the event you need to edit your document again.

You should unlink your citations before sending any document to someone not using Zotero, as they will not be able to see your citations.

Add Citation Dialogue Box

When adding Zotero citations, a red search bar will appear. Typing into this bar will search your library. When you find the citation you want, select it.

Zotero add citation search box

From here, you can hit Enter to add the citation as-is. Click within the source bubble to add page numbers, suppress the author field (when citing the author in the text), or to add text before or after your citation. A pop-up will appear where you can enter this information. You may add multiple citations at the same time by searching again.

Zotero add citations search box with options

When finished adding your information, hit the Enter key to insert.

📌 Prefer to browse for your sources?
Click on the Z on the left side of the search bar and select Classic View to see your citation library. You may also change your preferences in Zotero to always use the Classic Add Citation dialog, by navigating to Cite > Word Processors in the preferences menu.

Microsoft Word

Install the Zotero plug-in for Word to use Zotero's citation functions when writing. With the plug-in installed, a Zotero menu will appear as an option in Word. 

When using Zotero in Word, make any edits to your sources by clicking on the citation and using the Add/Edit Citation button. You can also edit the source directly in in the Zotero Desktop application and by clicking Refresh in the Word Zotero menu. Any edits made to the citation using Word may be lost when the document is refreshed, or may cause errors within your notes and bibliographies.

Zotero menu in Microsoft Word


Google Docs

You can use Zotero in Google Docs if you are using a browser with the Zotero connector installed. 

Click on the grey "Z" icon to add or edit a citation in the document.

Add/edit citations, as well as additional options are available within the Zotero menu at the top of the document.

Zotero menus in Google docs

For additional guidance on these tools, see instructions for using Using Zotero in Word Processors.

If you are planning on using your doc in another word processor, select "Switch word processors" from the Zotero menu. This feature will convert your citations to a format that can then be used in Word, LibreOffice, or OpenOffice. This cannot be undone.



Zotero can also be exported for use with LaTeX. Simply select the collection or files you wish to use with LaTeX and select File > Export. You can then select to export as a BibTeX or BibLaTeX.

If you use LaTeX frequently, the Better BibTeX plug-in for Zotero can improve exports. This and other plug-ins can be found at