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Zotero Guide


Getting Started with Zotero

Zotero (pronounced "zoh-TAIR-oh") is a software program that collects, manages, and cites research sources. It's free, easy to use, and works with your web browser as you search.  With one click, Zotero will save web pages, books, PDFs, abstracts, and almost anything else with all its citation information.

Zotero allows you to attach PDFs, notes and images to your citations, organize them into collections for different projects, and create bibliographies.  You can access your citations from multiple computers and share them with colleagues.

This program is open source and being updated with new features and bibliographic styles all the time.

For a look at more of Zotero's features, read the Zotero Quick Start Guide.

This guide is intended to get you set up and ready to use Zotero's most obvious features to improve your research and citation management.  If you are looking for help with a specific problem, try the Zotero website  or contact someone on UNB Libraries' Zotero team.


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The content of this guide is modelled on Harvard University's Zotero: Getting Started guide, the Zotero Quick Start Guide, and Jason Puckett's Zotero Guide at Georgia State University.

The content in this guide is licensed Creative Commons License

Step 1: Get Set Up

Watch this video or read transcript.

Download Zotero

Zotero operates mainly as a desktop application but syncs with an online account which allows it to be active and up-to-date on more than one device. Zotero Standalone works for Mac and Windows (but not Chrome Books), and can be used with Chrome and Firefox.  Installing the Zotero client requires downloading and installing a program for your operating system (Windows or Mac) and then installing browser extensions or add-ons to allow the client to talk to the browser.

  1. Visit and select Zotero 5.0 for Windows or Zotero 5.0 for Mac depending on your operating system.  Download the application and save the file to your computer.
  2. Next download the connector for Firefox or Chrome.Screen capture of zotero download page


  3. Allow the Extension or Add-on to install.

    Pop-up displaying the option to allow the Zotero plugin in your browser.

Configure the Resolver

The Library Lookup option in Zotero enables you to track down physical or electronic items in your local library catalogue.

Lookup option allows you to track down library items.

You can specify your preference to use the OpenURL resolver of UNB Libraries in the Advanced tab of the Zotero Preferences.

  1. In your Zotero dialogue box, go to Tools, select Preferences, and choose Advanced.
  2. Select Custom and set the resolver to

You can specify your preference to use the OpenURL resolver of UNB Libraries.

Get a Word Processor Plugin

One of the most powerful features of Zotero is the ability to use your citations in papers as you write them. Zotero will keep track of everything and produce a bibliography at the end. Zotero should connect with Word automatically when you download it. If this fails, follow the instructions below.

  1. Open Zotero
  2. Windows: Look for a tab called Add-Ins or the icons shown below in your toolbar.
  3. Click on the gear symbol in the top bar and select Preferences from the drop-down menu.
  4. In the Cite tab, click on Install Microsoft Word Add-in to get the latest version of the Microsoft Word or LibreOffice plugin. Make sure to choose the right platform (Windows or Mac).
  5. When prompted, click Allow, then Install Now.
  6. Restart Word or OpenOffice/LibreOffice.

Toolbar options for Zotero in Windows is in a ribbon tab called Add-Ins or Zotero.

Register Your Zotero Account

You need to register your account and log into Zotero in order to sync your Zotero connector with your Zotero desktop program. Doing this creates a connection between your desktop application, your cloud account, and your browser connector that allows you to use the full range of Zotero's features.

  1. Go to the Zotero Registration page.
  2. Complete the form to register for an account at
  3. Check your email and click the link from Zotero to register your account.

    Go to login and then select register for a free account

  4. Return to the preferences menu.

  5. In the Sync option, enter your username and password from your online account. Then click OK.

    Sync your online account in Zotero

Zotero on UNB's lab computers and borrowed laptops

Lab computers and borrowed laptops at UNB

There are 4 steps to access Zotero on the lab computers and borrowed laptops at UNB:

  1. Open the Chrome browser and make sure that it is not in incognito mode (to take it out of incognito, press Ctrl+N for a new window).
  2. Download the Zotero connector for Chrome from the Chrome Web Store ( You will need to do this for each session.
  3. Open the Zotero desktop application, which is already installed on the lab computers.
  4. Sync your Zotero account by following the instruction in this guide's Create and Sync Accounts tab.

If there is no Zotero shortcut on the desktop, look for Zotero in the Windows start menu that provides an alphabetical list of programs.

Feel free to explore the cloud version of Zotero ( to add and edit citations.

Step 2: Save Citations

Watch this video or read transcript.

Save Citations in Zotero

Screen capture of zotero add on icon in chrome and firefox

In most databases, you can save a single citation by clicking on the icon in your browser. Zotero's desktop application must be open for this to work.

In the event that the browser connector does not capture the citation information from a database, you can download citations manually by following the exporting/importing instructions.

Save Multiple Citations

After searching a database for your topic of interest, you can save journal articles and other search results in bulk to Zotero.

  1. When viewing a search results screen in a database Zotero will display Icon resembling a yellow folder. next to the 'Z' to the right of the Firefox address bar or in the address bar.
  2. Click the icon, and a small window will open.
  3. Select which items you'd like to save, and click OK.
  4. Zotero will automatically download PDF copies of the articles you have chosen as well as their citation information. If you capture a citation that does not have a PDF associated with it, you can attach one by dragging and dropping it into the citation in the Zotero desktop application.

Saving articles to Zotero


Step 3: Organize

Watch this video or read the transcript.

Create Collections

Zotero organizes your research into collections that act like folders. You can add a citation to any number of collections or subcollections.


  1. Create a new collection by clicking the folder icon above the library pane.
  2. Create a subcollection by right clicking on an existing collection and selecting New Subcollection.

Add Content to a Collection

When saving citations for a particular project, you should make a Collection for that project and save everything related to the project in it.

  1. In the Zotero window on the left side, click on the Collection you wish to save citations into.
  2. In your browser toolbar there will be an icon next to the Zotero button. The icon changes depending on what type of citation will be saved. Click on that button to save the current webpage to Zotero. A pop-up will appear stating that it was saved to the Collection you have open.  Use the drop down feature to change the folder an item is saved to.
  3. When you open the Collection, the citation you just saved will be in that Collection with all the citation information.

Saved citations will go to the collection that is open in Zotero.

Move Records Between Collections

You can highlight multiple records and move them into new collections by dragging and dropping. Press and hold Shift (PC) or Cmd (Mac) and drag the items into your chosen folder.

Delete Individual Records and Collections

There are four options for deleting items in Zotero:

  • Remove Item from Collection: removes the record only from the current collection. The record remains in your My Library and any other collections.
  • Move Item to Trash: deletes the record from the root collection and moves it to the trash folder.
  • Delete Collection: removes the folder but does not delete the records from your root collection or My Library.
  • Delete Collection and Items: deletes the records from all your collections, not just this one,and sends them to the trash folder.

Trashed items remain in the trash folder for 30 days. Use the “Restore to Library” option to bring back deleted items. To adjust this period, go to Edit, Preferences, and change the settings in the General tab.

Search Your Zotero Collection

Your collection is fully searchable, in the top-right search box. The three search modes allow you to search by “Title, Creator, Year,” “All Fields & Tags,” or “Everything” (which includes indexed text in PDFs).

Use the search bar in the top right corner of your Zotero window to search your citations.

Use the Advanced Search looking glass icon for more detailed search options, such as searching specificcollections, filtering content by specific fields, and saving your search.

Step 4: MS Word

Watch this video or read transcript.

Get a Word Processor Plugin

One of the most powerful features of Zotero is the ability to use your citations in papers as you write them. Zotero will keep track of everything and produce a bibliography at the end. Zotero automatically installs the add-in in MS Word or OpenOffice/LibreOffice. However, if the Zotero add-in does not appear once you open MS Word or if a software update disables it, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Zotero
  2. Select Edit and Preferences from the top-left, drop-down menu.
  3. In the Cite option, select the Word Processors tab, click on Install Microsoft Word Add-in.
  4. When prompted, click Allow, then Install Now.
  5. Restart MS Word or OpenOffice/LibreOffice.

Start Inserting Citations (MS Word for Windows)

Following Steps 1-3 to insert citations.

Following Steps 4-5 to change the citation style.

  1. Open Microsoft Word and place your cursor where you would like to add a citation.
  2. Select the Add-Ins tab if using MS Word, or otherwise find the Zotero toolbar.
  3. Click the Zotero Insert Citation icon.
  4. The first time you insert a citation in a document you will be required to choose a citation style. You can change the citation style at any time when you are writing.
  5. Press OK.

Changing Citations

Once you have added a citation to your Word document, you can edit it by changing the citation information in the Zotero window. These changes will be reflected in your Microsoft Word document automatically.

Following Steps 1 and 2 to edit citations.

Following Step 3 to refresh citations.

  1. Open the Zotero window and find the citation you wish to change.
  2. Edit the information in the sidebar.
  3. Return to the MS Word window and click on the Refresh button. Your citations will now be updated with the new information.

If you need to include page numbers, you can insert the citation as usual and then follow the following steps:

Following Step 3 to refresh citations.

  1. Place your cursor in the citation.
  2. Click on the Edit Citation button.
  3. In the Zotero bar, click on the citation to make a small menu appear.
  4. Add your page numbers to the citation.
  5. Press Enter to have your citation updated with the new page numbers.

Note that your original citation in Zotero has not changed, so you can insert the same citation multiple times with different page numbers using this method.

If you need to cite multiple sources in the same location:

Following Step 3 to refresh citations.

  1. Place your cursor in the citation.
  2. Click on the Edit Citation button.
  3. When the Zotero bar appears, search for and select the new citation.
  4. Press Enter to to have your citation updated.

Add Your Bibliography

When you are done adding citations, click Insert Bibliography. Zotero will insert a fully-formatted and alphabetized bibliography in whatever style you have previously chosen.

An arrow points to the insert bibliography icon in the MS Word ribbon.

Zotero and MS Word - Browser Version

The browser version of Word does not have the extension system Zotero uses to edit documents, so it's not possible to add Zotero to Word Online. You can edit a document with Zotero citations already in it in Word Online and then go back to working with it in the desktop version of Word with Zotero later, but you cannot make any changes to Zotero citations or bibliographies from within Word Online itself.

PDF Editor

Open PDF Editor

Zotero has a new built-in PDF editor and annotator that allows you to highlight, select and annotate sections of PDFs in your library.  To open the PDF editor, simply double click on any PDF in your library and it will open in a new tab in your Zotero window.  This tab can also be opened in a separate window by right-clicking the tab and selecting “Move Tab” and then “Move to New window”.


Image of pdf editor in Zotero


Highlight Text

The  PDF editor allows you to highlight sections of text. In addition to appearing highlighted in the document, highlighted text also appears in the annotation pane as text, which can be dragged and dropped into a word document or added to document notes.


Image of highlited text with notes reflecting instructions above the image


Select Image / Text

Using the select tool, you can identify a whole paragraph, image, diagram or table and have it save to your annotation pane.  Unlike the highlighting tool, items saved to the annotation pane using the select tool cannot be copied directly into another document.


PDF editor with an image selected. Image also appears in annotation pane.


Notes & Internal Citations

You can edit your article citation information and notes from the PDF editor as well.


Image of notes pane in pdf editor


Notes also allows you to cite the document your working with as well as any other document in your library, just as you can cite documents in MS Word.


Image of notes editor with note on annotation and references


iOS App

The iOS app for Zotero allows you to do annotations on your mobile device, including taking physical notes using an Apple pencil.  All work done in the iOS app syncs to your cloud and will appear in all your Zotero applications when they are synced.

Note: the iOS app is very new and remains slightly unstable.  There are some unresolved syncing issues that cause it to crash or fail to fully sync libraries. This is particularly the case if you have a large library.  If you choose to use it, be sure to sync and save your work frequently.

Zotero Groups

Watch this video or read transcript.

Zotero Groups

Zotero's Group tool allows you to create a library and share it with other Zotero users. Groups is a collaborative tool that allows members of the group to add to and edit a common library, making it possible to work together remotely and in real-time.

Creating a Group

  1. Go to the Zotero website and login.
  2. Select the Groups tab towards the top of the page.
  3. Click Create a New Group.
     Image of groups tab

  4. Name your group.
  5. Select type of group membership (details are provided on the page; for most uses, Private is recommended).
  6. Click Create Group.

    Image of group settings page with name and membership permissions

  7. Set the editorial permissions for the members in your group.

    Image of group settings page with editorial permissions options

Adding Members to a Group

  1. Return to the main Groups page on the Zotero website.
  2. Select the Manage Members option associated with your group.

    Image showing link to "manage group members"

  3. Select Send More Invitations and enter the email address of the person you wish to invite to your group. If the invitee has more than one email address, you will want to use the one that is associated with his/her Zotero account.

    Image about sending group invitations

  4. The invited member may accept or decline the invitation.

Note: It is possible for the owner of a Group to remove members. Members are not notified upon removal.

Quick Information

Before You Share

  • Consider editing records before adding them to a group folder. Edits made after something has been shared will only apply to the item being edited.

Shared Library

  • Moving a record from a private folder to a Group folder also moves all the attachments and notes that already exist in the record.
  • Moving content from a private Zotero folder to a Group folder does not remove that content from your private folder. It is duplicated and treated as completely unrelated to the original content.
  • Deleting content from a Group folder does not delete it from a private folder, but it does delete it from the Group folder of everyone in a group.
  • Editing and note taking done in a Group folder does not affect the same item in a private folder.
  • If an attachment is removed from a Group folder, it is not altered in a private (unshared) folder.
  • Deleting the PDF (or any other attachment) from a record in a Group folder will also delete it from any copies of that record that exists in other sub-folders of the Group folder. It will not affect private folders.
  • Items that are accidentally deleted from a Group folder go into the Group trash and can be retrieved for a short time.

Member Permissions

  • Editing permissions in Zotero Groups are all-or-nothing. All members of the group (apart from the group owner/creator) are affected by the permissions that are set.

More Tips & Tricks

Import Your PDFs & Extract Their Metadata

Watch this video or read transcript.


If you already have PDFs saved on your computer, you do not need to add them all manually to Zotero. Zotero is capable of using Google Scholar to fetch citation information automatically.

Metadata Retrieval Complete

Enter manual citation

  1. Drag and drop your PDF into My Library or another existing collection.
  2. Highlight the item you added and right click. Choose Retrieve Metadata for PDF.
  3. Zotero will now search for the citation information for that article.
  4. If retrieving metadata does not work, or the information is incomplete, you will need to manually add the information to the item. To do this, right click and choose Create Parent Item from Selected Item.
  5. Now, you can fill in the information for the item manually. Choose the correct document type first to make sure the formatting is correct.
  6. Then type in the citation information, such as the title of the article and the author(s).

Import Existing Bibliographies into Zotero

If you have a formatted bibliography or a list of citations that have been created as ".txt" or ".docx" files and would like to import them into Zotero, you can use tools such as AnyStyle, cb2Bib, text2bib to harvest the citations by converting your original files into Zotero-compatable “.ris” or “.bibtex” formats.

For more information, go here.

Create an Annotated Bibliography

You can use Zotero to create an Annotated APA or Chicago Bibliography.

Creating an annotated bibliography

  1. Access the Zotero Style repository using the instructions above or by going directly to the Zotero Style Repository.
  2. Download one of the following two styles from the Zotero Style Repository:
    • APA: Download the style "American Psychological Association 6th edition (annotated bibliography with abstract)."
    • Chicago: Download the style "Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition (note, annotated bibliography)."
  3. Open your Zotero library and select the item that you want to annotate. In the "Info" tab on the right-hand pane, write the annotation in the "Extra" field. Repeat this step for each item that you want to include in the annotated bibliography.
  4. Open your word processing document and follow the standard process for inserting a citation into your document (see the directions above). When prompted to choose your citation style, select the Annotated Chicago or APA style that you just downloaded.

Adding Books By ISBN

Have the book in front of you and want to add it to your Zotero library without having to search for a citation?

If you have a book's ISBN, an online article's DOI or PMID number, just click the magic wand button: "Add item by identifier." Type in the book or article's number, and Zotero will automatically download its information and save it to your library.

Change Citation Styles and Get New Ones

Watch this video or read transcript.


If you do not see the style you want listed in Zotero's standard styles, you will need to download your desired style from the style back. There are several steps to this process.

Get Additional Citation Styles

  1. Open Zotero's Preferences.
  2. Click on the Cite option at the top of the preferences pane.
  3. Select the Styles tab.
  4. Click on Get additional Styles..., which is located below the standard list of styles
  5. Find the style you want and click on the title. Click on Install. The style will be added to your options in both Zotero and Word.

Research Rabbit

Research Rabbit is a third-party tool that expands on your existing research to help you identify new articles on your topic and to illustrate networks of authors and trends in the research.  It can integrate with Zotero such that it will create search networks with any collection or library tied to your Zotero account.  Click here for a brief intro to Research Rabbit and its applications.

Note: Research Rabbit appears to function based on DOIs and so is suitable only for making connections between scholarly articles.  It does not have much functionality for other information sources you may wish to use to support your research.


Use Zotero on Mobile

Zotero on iOS

The iOS app for Zotero allows you to do annotations on your mobile device, including taking physical notes using an Apple pencil.  All work done in the iOS app syncs to your cloud and will appear in all your Zotero applications when they are synced.

Note: the iOS app is very new and remains slightly unstable.  There are some unresolved syncing issues that cause it to crash or fail to fully sync libraries. This is particularly the case if you have a large library. If you choose to use it, be sure to sync and save your work frequently.


Zotero Storage Solutions

If you run out of space in your Zotero account, there are a number of things you should know / options available to you:

  1. Even if you are at your limit for storage, you can still add citations and records to your account.  You are only restricted in adding attachments to your account at this point.
  2. You can purchase additional space from the Zotero website at an annual rate:
  3. You can change how you store your Zotero content so that the library content is stored on your device or in a non-Zotero cloud.  Instruction for this can be found here:

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