Zotero: Zotero

This guide will help you use the free online citation and research management tool Zotero to organize citations from Library catalogs and databases.

What is Zotero and why would I use it?

Zotero is a tool that collects, manages, and cites the sources you find during your research. In addition to saving a citation, you can add notes and images in your Zotero library and in many cases automatically download PDFs.

You can use Zotero to...

  • Create and organize a personal database of references
  • Import references automatically from many Web sites and library E-resources
  • Format bibliographies and papers

Why choose Zotero over another tool, like RefWorks or Endnote?

  • Your Zotero library is saved locally and though it is possible for you to create a cloud space and sync your citations, it requires you to adjust your settings on every computer you use Zotero with. If you do your research and writing mostly on one computer, Zotero is a great option.
  • Zotero can be used offline -- an internet connection is not necessary to work with your Zotero library.
  • Zotero is easy to learn how to use

Zotero for Firefox

Zotero  was first developed as a Firefox extension and can be quickly added to Firefox by visiting https://www.zotero.org/download/ and clicking on the red “Zotero 4.0 for Firefox” link. After installation, restart Firefox and you will see the Zotero symbol added to your menu bar. zotero symbol

Zotero for Firefox runs as a plugin for the Firefox browser, not as a separate program, and can be used on both Windows machines and Macs.

Zotero Standalone

If you prefer another browser to Firefox, Zotero offers a Standalone option. It operates almost identically to the Zotero for Firefox extension, but cannot offer some advance features, like automatic proxy redirection and automatically importing file attachments when websites are accessed through a web proxy.

In order to scrape bibliographic metadata from websites, Zotero Standalone needs to communicate with the browser you are using, which can be done by installing a Zotero Connector:

  • Chrome, Safari, or Opera connectors can be installed by following the respective download links under the Zotero Standalone download button.

zotero standalone

  • Firefox can also be used with Zotero Standalone, using Zotero for Firefox. The Firefox extension is somewhat unique because, while it is a full-featured Zotero application, it will automatically act as a Connector for Zotero Standalone if Zotero Standalone is open.

Getting Started with Zotero

Zotero provides the ability to save references from many library catalogs and article databses with one click. Your Zotero library allows you to organize and edit the entries.

zotero interface

Collections: The left column includes My Library, which contains all items. Clicking the button above the left column creates a new collection, a folder into which items rleating to a specific project or topic can be placed.

Below that is the tag selector, where tags assigned to items can be added or removed.

Items: The items pane displays a list of all the items in each collection with icons that indicate the type of item (book, article, thesis, screenshot, etc.).

Item Details: This pane displays the bibliographic information that was imported by Zotero for each item. There are also options to add additional notes, attachments, links to the original sources, tags, and subject headings.

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