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Citation Management: An Introduction to Zotero   Tags: citation management, research, zotero  

Last Updated: Oct 16, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Quick Start

The following links will help you get started with Zotero on your own:


Zotero Screencasts

The Zotero site has several short, clear video tutorials .  Click on the image below for a nice introductory overview.



LibGuide in Progress

See the links below for Zotero LibGuides from academic institutions:




About Zotero

Zotero (pronounced "zoh-TAIR-oh") is a free application that makes it easy to collect citations to information sources, manage collected citations, and cite them in research papers. Zotero is available as a plug-in for Firefox, and beta versions of a plug-in are available for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.  In August 2011 a stand alone application version of Zotero was released that runs independently of your browser.  You can create an account with to store your data on their server as well as on your local computer.   

You can also use Zotero to attach PDF files, notes, or images to citations.  Zotero uses an iTunes-like approach to organizing files and folders. Options to search collected references and organize them for specific projects make it easy to create bibliographies using Word or OpenOffice.


Installing Zotero

1. You'll need Firefox version 3.6 or 4.0. Download and install Zotero 2.1.1 from the Zotero website.   

You may get the message “Firefox prevented this site from asking you to install software on your computer," in which case click "Allow" to proceed with installation.  Restart Firefox after installing Zotero.

2. Register for an account with Zotero so you can take advantage of its ability to sync data from the sever to any computer you want to use.

3. Look for the button in the lower right corner of your Firefox browser window.  Click on it to open Zotero.

4. Click on the Action icon in Zotero (it looks like a little gear); then choose Preferences:

5.  Under the "General" preferences tab, note the options to "Automatically attach associated PDFs" and "Automatically tag items with keywords and subject headings," and click the check boxes for these two settings.

6. Go to the Preferences "Sync" tab.  Enter your Zotero user name and password, and check the "sync automatically" check box.  This will save the same collections of citations and files that you store on your local computer (in the Firefox profile) on the Zotero server as well.  If you use another computer, you can get to your data from the Sync Reset preferences by choosing "Restore from Zotero server," which will erase local data that may have been saved by someone else.

See the tab on this LibGuide about Portable Zotero & Syncing for more details.

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Zotero Vocabulary

Below are a few words with their definitions as used in Zotero to manage data.

  • Library  
    In Zotero, the library serves as the main storage place for items added. You can add any kind of item, including notes and files like PDFs.
  • Groups  
    "Groups provide a powerful way to share collections with a class, work closely with colleagues on a project, keep track of conversations in your field more broadly, and keep tabs on what people at your institution or in your department are working on."
  • Style  
    "A style describes is the layout and formatting of the output from Zotero."
  • Translator  
    "Site translators are the secret sauce that make Zotero so easy to use."
  Adapted from Chester Kozikowski's Zotero LibGuide at Boston College Law Library.


Creative Commons 

This guide is adapted from content created by Flora Shrode and licensed by Utah State University's Merrill-Cazier Library under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.  Much of the content is adapted from Jason Puckett's Zotero LibGuide at Georgia State University. You may reproduce any part of it for noncommercial purposes as long you give credit to the creators. 


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