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Zotero: Bibliographies

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

Creating a Bibliography

Creating a simple bibliography from your item list

Quick Copy - Select titles in your item list and drag and drop them into an open Google, Word, or LibreOffice document.

Before you create the bibliography, you should choose the citation style that you prefer to use. In the Export tab of Zotero preferences, choose from the Default Format list.

zotero preferences choose export style


Right-Click to Create Bibliography - Select one or more items from the list you want  included in the bibliography and then right-click (control-click on Macs) to select “Create Bibliography from Items...”

right click menu item

Then select a citation style for your bibliography format and choose one of the following four ways to create your bibliography:

  • Save as RTF will allow you to save the bibliography as a rich text file.
  • Save as HTML will allow you to save the bibliography as a HTML file for viewing in a web browser. This format will also embed metadata allowing other Zotero users viewing the document to capture bibliographic information.
  • Copy to Clipboard will allow you to save the bibliography to your clipboard to paste into any text application.
  • Print will send your bibliography straight to a printer.
You can also right-click (control-click on Macs) on a collection and choose "Create Bibliography from Collection."

Word Processor Integration

The word processor plugins for Microsoft Word and LibreOffice are bundled with Zotero and should be installed automatically for each word processor when you first start Zotero. The plugins will allow you to insert citations as you write.

You can reinstall plugins from the Cite tab of Zotero preferences (under Word Processors). If you need to reinstall the plugins, close your word processing software first. If this does not work, Zotero provides instructions for manually installing the Word plugin.

Using Zotero with Word and LibreOffice

In Microsoft Word the plugin will add a Zotero option to your menu.

Installation of the plugin adds a toolbar to the LibreOffice Writer menu. [Note that LibreOffice for Windows requires Java Runtime Environment and the version (32-bit or 64-bit) must match the version of LibreOffice that you downloaded. Avoid installation problems by making sure the JRE on your computer is up-to-date and is chosen as an option under LibreOffice's Tools > Options > Advanced menu before installation (or re-installation).See the Zotero documentation for more information.]

add or edit a citation           Add a new citation or edit an existing citation in your document at the cursor location.
add note icon           Add a note from your library.
insert a bibliography           Insert a bibliography at the cursor location or edit an existing bibliography.
Open the document preferences window           Open the Document Preferences window, e.g. to change the citation style.
Refresh all citations           Refresh all citations and the bibliography, updating any item metadata that has changed in your Zotero library.
unlink citations           Unlink Zotero citations in the document by removing the field codes. This prevents any further automatic updates of the citations and bibliographies. Note that removing field codes is irreversible, and should usually only be done in a final copy of your document.


Adding citations to a document

While writing your document, when you get to a point where you want to add a citation, click on the insert citation button in the toolbar and then search for the citation in your collection in the citation dialog. Select your citation from the options shown, then press enter. If you would like to insert multiple citations, continue typing after selecting the first reference. 

If you want to add details to a citation, such as a comment before or after, or a page number, click on the reference in the citation dialog to open a pop-up that allows you to enter the information. 

example of inserting a citation

If you click on the Z in the citation dialog, the option to look at the "Classic View" will appear. This opens a window that gives you access to all of your directories and saved citations in your folder.

add/edit a citation using the classic view


You can also add comments and page numbers in this window, as well as selecting multiple references to be combined in one citation. If you prefer this view, you can set it as the default under Preferences > Cite > Word Processors and check "Use classic Add Citation dialog."

(See the FAQ to learn why it is important that you use Zotero to add or edit information in your citations.)

To generate a bibliography from all of the items you have referenced, position your cursor where you want the bibliography to start, then click the Add/Edit Bibliography button.

Annotated Bibliographies

There are two annotated styles available from the Zotero Style Repository: Chicago and APA.  Add a style to your preferences under Preferences > Cite > Styles. Click on the "Get additional styles" link and at the website, search for annotated. 

results of style search for annotated: APA 7th edition and CMOS 17th ed

Click on the preferred style and it will be added to your Style Manager. When you are ready to format your annotated bibliography, make sure this style is selected.

location of abstract field and extra field in the item infoIn the APA style, the annotations are generated from the text that appears in the Abstract field of the item information. In the Chicago style, the annotations are generated from text added to the Extra: field in the item information.

Example of APA entry:
APA annotated bibliography example
Example of Chicago entry:
Example of Chicago annotated bibliography entry

Remove references from a bibliography

When creating a document in your word processor, there may be times when you want sources cited in your document but not in the bibliography. Use the Add/Edit Bibliography command and remove items from the right pane of the window using the left arrow.

Edit bibliography screen

Attempting to edit a deleted reference will prompt an error message, so this step should be done in the final stages of editing your document.