Skip to main content

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 websites and library E-resources
  • Format bibliographies in your 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.
  • Learning to use Zotero is easy

Compare Zotero with other citation managers.

Which Zotero do I use?

Your Zotero download options are available at Both options will work on Windows machines and Macs.

Zotero Firefox Extension Zotero Standalone (for Firefox, Chrome, or Safari)

Zotero was first developed as a Firefox extension and can be quickly added to the Firefox browser by clicking on this option.

After installation, restart Firefox and you will see the Zotero symbol added to your menu bar. zotero symbol


The Standalone version 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:

  • Firefox, Chrome, or Safari connectors can be installed by following the respective download links under the Zotero Standalone download button. Select the connector for the browser you have open when accessing this site (the others will be greyed out).

zotero standalone download button


If you want to install both Zotero for Firefox and Zotero Standalone, after installation of the second client you will be asked whether you want to share a single Zotero database between the two clients, or have each client have its own.


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.

Copyright © 2014-2016 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Except where otherwise noted, this work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License.