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Zotero: Citation Management Tool

How to use Zotero, a citation manager, to organize resources and create bibliographies.

Using Zotero for your research

Zotero can collect and organize your citations for upcoming articles, conference presentations, and other research projects you may be working on. It has a built in feature that, with a click of a button, will grab citation information from a source you are viewing. The information it grabs includes author, title, publication title, publication date, and page range. It can also grab extra information, like the date you viewed the source, when needed. All your citations are collected and organized in your own personal Zotero library - no more searching your computer, email, or documents for a list of resources you collected. 

Using Zotero for your collaborative group research

Working on a collaborative research project? Use Zotero to collect sources using the Group function.

Zotero Groups

Zotero's Groups feature allows you to share references with other Zotero users online. It's a great way to work on collaborative research projects and can be used for student group projects. 

  1. Open Zotero online and sign in. 
  2. Select "Groups" from the top menu. 
  3. Select "create a new group".
  4. Choose a group name and a group type. You can change the group type afterwards if you change your mind. 
    1. Public, open membership: Anyone can view your group online and join the group instantly.
    2. Public, closed membership: Anyone can view your group online, but members must apply or be invited.
    3. Private membership: Only members can view your group online and must be invited to join.
  5. Invite people to join your group under "member setting". Group members need to have a Zotero account. 

You will now have two sections in your Zotero collections pane: My Library and Group Libraries. You may need to adjust your Zotero sync settings to view group references. You can adjust your sync settings in your Zotero 5.0 desktop application under "preferences". Personal and group libraries are entirely separate, and changes made to items in one library do not affect the other. You can drag items back and forth libraries to copy items.

Note that group library storage goes against the owner of the group. You can set the group setting to not include full-text attachments which will significantly reduce storage consumption. 

You can also join existing Zotero group libraries. To join an existing Zotero library, search for it at or be invited by the group’s owner.

Using Zotero to promote your research

Use Zotero to create a curated list of all your research and share it with anyone. You can add citations for research papers, conference presentations, conference proceedings, books, books chapters, and more. Once you have your curated folder with your research, share it out by linking on your faculty page, social media, or on your business cards. 

Using Zotero in your classrooms

Zotero can be incorporated into your courses in a few different ways. You can use Zotero to share course readings with students or curate bibliographies to share with students. You can assign students to create their own set of bibliographies or use Zotero for groups projects to collect resources. Chat with a librarian about how Zotero can be incorporated into your courses. 

Advanced Zotero

Zotero has tons of advanced features to enhance your research process.


Adding Items by DOI, ISBN, and PubMed ID

Zotero can add items automatically using ISBN number, Digital Object Identifier (DOI), and PubMed ID. Follow the instructions below to save by any of these identifiers.

  1. Open Zotero online or Zotero 5.0.
  2. Click the "Add Item by Identifier" button. The button looks like a wand with a green/white plus sign icon. 
  3. Type the ID number and click "OK". You can also paste or enter a list of such identifiers at once


Zotero Plugins

Zotero has an active community that creates 3rd party plugins. Check this list for available plugins. Here are some plugins that might interest faculty.

  • Zotfile - Zotero plugin to automatically rename, move, and attach PDFs (or other files) to Zotero items.
  • Zotero OCR - Perform automatic text recognition (OCR) on PDFs with image layer only. Uses Tesseract as OCR engine.
  • Google Scholar Citations for Zotero - Add Google Scholar citation counts to items in your Zotero library.


Importing citations from EndNote, RefWorks, Mendeley or another citation manager

Most citations can be exported from another citation manager and imported to Zotero. Please contact one of the librarians listed on the Help page for more specific instructions based on the manager used. Below are general instructions for importing citations into Zotero:

  1. First, export your library
    1. In you current manager find the export option, usually under the File or Edit menu.
    2. Export an individual folder or entire library
    3. Save the Export file as RIS
    4. Export and save file on your computer in a convenient location.
  2. Import into Zotero
    1. In Zotero, navigate to the location you would like the citations imported into. This can be the main "My Library" folder or a specific subfolder
    2. Then, select File menu and choose "Import..."
    3. In popup-window select the import file type, locate the file and select the open file.
  3. Citations should all import.
  4. If PDFs were not exported (some citation managers do not export attached files), add article PDFs for each citation


Exporting citations from Zotero

Zotero makes it easy to export citations (and files!) into another citation manager. Please contact one of the librarians listed on the Help page for more specific instructions based on the manager used. See general directions below. 

  1. Open Zotero
  2. Select File menu and choose "Export Library..."
  3. Choose desired format (we generally recommend RIS) and check if you would like your notes and attached files exported then hit OK
  4. Choose a location to have your file saved on your computer. 
  5. Now you can import your citations into your desired citation manager.