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Zotero

An introductory guide to bibliographic software, Zotero.

Collecting References

If Zotero detects that you're looking at a book or article on a library catalog or database, or a site like Amazon.com or the New York Times, you'll see a book or page icon appear in the address bar of your browser.

Click the icon and Zotero will automatically save the citation.

Screenshot of zotero save button


If you're on a page of search results with many items, you'll see a folder icon instead.

  1. Click the folder icon and a window will open with a list of all the items on the page
  2. Check off the items you want to save
  3. Press OK to confirm

Screenshot of the folder icon showing multiple files on a page

Collecting References: Other Web Sites

Zotero can't automatically capture citation info from some web pages, but you can still add them to your Zotero library.

Right-click in your browser and choose "Save to Zotero" from the menu. This will save a new "web page" item to your library. You can add information about the author, etc., if you wish.

This will also attach a snapshot of the page to the citation. Taking a snapshot saves a copy of the page to your computer. It includes the page's text and images, so if the page is removed later, or if you're offline, you'll still be able to view your copy.

Screenshot of menu to save to zotero on other webpages

Organizing Your Library

Click the Zotero button at the bottom of your browser to open your library. At the top left is a folder button with a green plus sign. Click this to create a new "collection."

Create collections to organize your references. Collections are like file folders on your computer, but a reference can be in more than one collection at a time. In other words, a book on the Civil War could be filed in your "Civil War" collection, your "Georgia History" collection and your "19th Century America" collection without having to make three copies of the reference.

Screenshot of zotero software and the collection creation button

Attaching Files

Zotero automatically saves PDFs along with citations when possible (you can change this in the preferences menu if you wish.) Attachments take up space in your Zotero account -- you get 300 MB free and can buy more space if needed.

Attach files manually by dragging a PDF (or other file) into your Zotero pane.  Dropping a file onto a collection, or in between library items, will copy it into your library as a standalone item.  Dropping it onto an existing item will attach it to that item. This is the easiest way to attach a copy of an article to its entry in your library.

Each item also has an Attachments tab in the right column. Attach files by clicking the Attachments tab and then the Add button.

Screenshot of zotero software showing how to attach items in the library

Video Tutorial: Saving Citations