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Waidner-Spahr Library

Citing Sources: Zotero

Introduction to Zotero

zotero logo

What is Zotero?

Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is an open-source tool which allows you to collect, organize, cite, and share research sources easily, using either web browser extensions or a stand-alone program on your computer. Developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, Zotero is open-source, and thus completely free.

How Does Zotero Work?

Zotero button

Zotero's web extensions add buttons to your browser's address bar, allowing you to save resources to your Zotero collection. Zotero captures metadata from any given resource, and can also save files such as full-text PDFs directly from a library database.

Zotero also allows you to take notes on each saved source directly within the program, and to organize sources using tags and folders.

Integration with Microsoft Word and an independent bibliographic citation tool automatically cites your sources in any of Zotero's supported citation styles.

Getting Started with Zotero

Step One: Download Zotero

To begin using Zotero, download the application here.  

  • If you use Mozilla Firefox as your primary browser, download the Zotero for Firefox software.
  • If you are using Microsoft Chrome, Opera, or Apple Safari as your primary browser, or wish to have offline access to your Zotero materials, download the Zotero Standalone software.

For more information on which version to choose, see Zotero's installation instructions.

Step Two: Get Sources Into Zotero

You can put sources into Zotero in a number of different ways, including address bar buttons, manual additions, and item lookup using ISBN or DOI numbers.  For more information, see Zotero's documentation or watch the following video:

Step Three: Create Bibliographies

To create bibliographic citations, you can do the following:

  • Right-click (or control-click for Macs) on sources, and select "Create Bibliography from Selected Item(s)...".  You can select multiple items and use this feature. Select your citation style and output format, as appropriate.
  • Drag and drop individual sources into any text field (such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs). To set your preferences for this option, including citation style, go to Tools > Preferences > Export.
  • Use Zotero's integration tool with Microsoft Word or LibreOffice/OpenOffice/NeoOffice.  See the box below.

Zotero Integration with Microsoft Word and LibreOffice/OpenOffice/NeoOffice

In addition to tools within Zotero to create bibliographies, Zotero can be integrated with word processors including Microsoft Word as well as open-source options including LibreOffice, OpenOffice, and NeoOffice. If you downloaded Zotero for Firefox, you must also download a plugin for your word processor. If you downloaded Zotero Standalone, your plugins have already been downloaded.

For more information or help on how to use word processor integration with Zotero, visit Zotero's word processor usage guide.

Support for Zotero

For help using Zotero, you can use Zotero's copious online documentation. Of special importance are the following pages:

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