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What is Zotero?

Zotero is a citation management tool built into your web browser -- Firefox, Safari, or Chrome -- that helps you collect, organize, and share citations. Zotero also helps you create and format bibliographies in a wide variety of citation styles (APA, Chicago, MLA, etc.) for your research projects.

Zotero is freely available for download from


Zotero imports data, and in many cases full-text PDFs, from the most popular electronic databases, including EBSCO, JSTOR, Google Scholar, ProQuest, PubMed. It also works with journal publishers, including SAGE, ScienceDirect, SpringerLink, Taylor and Francis.

ZoteroBib vs Zotero

Can't (or don't want to) install any software? Use ZoteroBib to create a standalone bibliography to paste into a document.

ZoteroBib helps you build a bibliography instantly from any computer or device, without creating an account or installing any software.

Should I use ZoteroBib or Zotero?

ZoteroBib and Zotero are both free, open-source tools created to help people manage their research. Choose whichever one is right for you.

  • If you just need to create a one-off bibliography for a paper, ZoteroBib is the quickest and easiest way to do it.
  • If you’re working on a longer-term project, want to build up a research library to use across multiple projects, or need to collaborate with others, Zotero offers many more features.

Installing Zotero

Where do I download Zotero?

You can download Zotero on the Zotero download page.

  • Be sure to install BOTH the program and Zotero Connector for your browser.

How do I install Zotero?


Open the .dmg you downloaded and drag Zotero to the Applications folder. You can then run Zotero from Spotlight, Launchpad, or the Applications folder and add it to your Dock like any other program.


Run the setup program you downloaded.

Zotero Storage

Zotero users are given 300 MB of free Zotero File Storage, with larger storage plans available for purchase. To check your usage and/or sign up for additional storage, visit the storage settings of your Zotero account.

Adding Items to Zotero

For many databases and websites, Zotero senses when a list of books or articles is displayed by showing an icon in the address bar. This citation information can be saved with just a few clicks.

  • Click on the yellow folder or book icon in your browser's location bar to download citation information into your Zotero library.

  • Choose item(s) to add to Zotero and click OK. It will automatically be added into your Zotero Library.

Adding PDFs

To include a PDF or any other file from your computer in Zotero, simply drag it to Zotero — you can drag to an existing item to attach the file or drag between items to store as an independent item. Zotero will automatically retrieve bibliographic metadata for the PDFs.

Create a Bibliography

To create a bibliography or a citations list in Zotero:

  • Highlight one or more references
  • Right-click (or control-click on Macs) to select “Create Bibliography from Items”
  • Select a citation style and choose to create a Bibliography
  • Then choose one of the following four ways to create your citation/bibliography:
    • Save as RTF (opens in any word processor)
    • Save as HTML
    • Copy to Clipboard
    • Print


Create an Annotated Bibliography

The Zotero Style Repository <> currently offers, and regularly updates, annotated styles for two bibliographic formats:

  • American Psychological Association 6th edition (annotated bibliography with abstract)
  • Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition (note, annotated bibliography)

These styles use the information stored in Zotero's Abstract field to display the annotation.

Use the following right-click technique to create a file with the annotated bibliography.

  1. Highlight one or more references in the Zotero center column
  2. Right-click (or control-click on Macs) to select “Create Bibliography from Items...
  3. Select an annotated citation style for your bibliography format
  4. Choose "Save as RTF" to save the bibliography as a rich text file
  5. This file will open in any word processor

NOTE: The following two Zotero bibliography creation techniques do NOT generate properly formatted annotations:

  1. Right click "Copy to Clipboard", and
  2. Quick Copy drag-and-drop

Writing with Zotero

Zotero offers free plugins for three word processing platforms: Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, and Google Docs. These plugins help you insert citations as you write and then generate a complete bibliography from the citations in your document.



Zotero's website provides extensive tutorials and guides to help you get started.