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Zotero — Easing Citation Management

An introduction and basic overview of Zotero—how to get it, how to use it

Making the Connection

Before you open your word processor, you'll want to ensure you have the propper add-in to make the connection between your writing software and Zotero. 

If you're using the Standalone, the LibreOffice add-in is already installed. If you use Word, you'll need to open the preferences pane and navigate to the Cite tab. Click the button designated for the Word add-in. (If you have already opened your word processor, you'll need to restart it to complete the install.)

If you're using Zotero as a Firefox extension, you will still navigate to the Cite tab of the preference page but you will have a different process. 

No word processor connection is preloaded. You will see a link that directs you to a webpage. From there you will choose your desired word processor and add that as a Firefox extension.

Finding the Zotero Toolbar

Once the add-in for your word processor has been installed and you're ready to begin inserting citations, you'll need to locate the Zotero toolbar. In Word, this will be in the Add-in tab on the ribbon (PC) or under View > Toolbars (on a Mac). For LibreOffice users, look for it under View > Toolbars.

Toolbar buttons from left to right:

  • Insert Citation
  • Edit Citation
  • Insert Bibliography
  • Edit Bibliography
  • Refresh
  • Set Doc Prefs
  • Remove Codes

Insert Footnotes

Footnotes are inserted by clicking the Insert Citation button on the toolbar. The first time a citation is added to a document, Zotero will ask which citation style should be used. Choose Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition (full note).

Use the Set Doc Prefs button in the Zotero toolbar to bring this box back onto the screen if you need to change styles later (if the wrong style is accidentally chosen).



The Quick Format box will appear, allowing you to choose which resource to cite. Start typing any portion of the title or the author's name and Zotero will begin suggesting options. Notice that works already cited in the paper will appear at the top of the list.



Selecting the resource will place it in the Quick Format Dialog Box. Hitting return after that will insert the resource into the footnote.


Specific page numbers may be added by pressing the spacebar one time and typing the number (it will likely disappear from the bar but appear correctly in the footnote) or by using the mouse to click on the resource. Comments before (Prefix) or after (Suffix) the citation may also be added here.

Edit Footnotes

Edit a footnote by moving the cursor into the footnote (anywhere within the footnote) and then clicking Edit Citation in the Zotero toolbar. The Quick Format Dialog Box will reappear on the screen. Additional resources may be added by typing the title or author after the existing resources. The page number, prefix, and suffix may be edited by clicking the shaded area of the desired resource in the box. Also, see heading Refresh below.

Note: If the citation information for the resource is incorrect in some way (missing publisher information, mispelled author's name, etc.) this should be corrected in the info pane in the right column of Zotero not in the document.

Insert a Bibliography

Insert the bibliography at any point in the writing process by moving the cursor to the desired position on the bibliography page of the paper and clicking Insert Bibliography on the Zotero toolbar. Zotero will create a bibliography based upon all resources used in citations to that point. Zotero will also keep the bibliography updated and correctly ordered as additional resources are used and cited. Also, see heading Refresh below.

Template users, if the bibliography doesn't appear correctly formatted for Southern's style manual, select the entire bibliography and choose Bibliography Citations from the style menu in Word.


Use the Refresh button on the Zotero toolbar if footnotes or the bibliography do not appear to have automatically updated as you have made changes to the document. Zotero will sweep through the document and correct those oddities. It may be helpful to refresh after the paper is finished as well.