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Zotero Basics

user guide for the citation manager Zotero

ZoteroBib: A Standalone Citation Creator

You can also generate citations for individual items using ZoteroBib, a free citation generator from Zotero.  Note that this product is separate from Zotero, and the item will not be added to your Zotero library.

Zotero.org

Zotero works best when you can use the downloaded desktop application with Zotero Connector. However, this is not usually available when you are moving between several shared or public computers.

If you are using public computers instead of your own device, you can access some of the functions of Zotero using zotero.org. The web version should automatically sync with your desktop application, as long as you are signed into both. It is not as convenient as the desktop application, but it is still a good option. Zotero.org allows you to:

  • View your Libraries & Collections
  • Tag, sort, and edit your citations
  • Manually add a citation
  • Create a one-time bibliography

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Special Thanks & Credit due

This guide was created in 2019 by Tabitha Ochtera, the Electronic Resources Librarian at that time.

Special thanks to Nicholas Schiller and Lorena O'English from Washington State University for the use of their guides (Citation Management with Zotero and Zotero @ the WUS Libraries, respectively) in the creation of this one.

Welcome to Zotero

This guide will take you through the basics but there are many resources available at Zotero.org to help you learn Zotero. My advice is to install it and jump right in. Then, when you can't figure something out, check out Zotero's Support Page and Video Tutorials. 

  1. Create a free account at Zotero.org
  2. Download the Zotero 5.0 desktop application 
  3. Install Zotero Connector
  4. ​Sign in to your Zotero desktop application and authorize the Zotero connector.

For detailed instructions, visit the Getting Started Checklist.

Getting Started Checklist

Create a free account at Zotero.org

  • Register for a free account at zotero.org
  • choose a username, password and any email address you would like
  • this allows you to sync your library and create/join groups to share citations

Download the Zotero desktop application

  • download the Zotero 5.0 application at zotero.org
  • the Zotero application is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Install the Zotero connector and any add-ons (ex. Word Plugin)

  • Sign into your Web browser account of choice, e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari
  • Install the Zotero connector at zotero.org/download
  • Currently available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge
  • Alternatively, you can use the bookmarklet for any browser and device

There are many plugins available from the Zotero community that can be found at Plugins for Zotero. When you download the Zotero desktop application you will have the option to enable the most popular plugins.

  • Go to Tools
  • Select Add-ons
  • Enable the Word for Windows or LibreOffice Integration

Sign in to the Zotero desktop application and the connector

This is important for saving and syncing your citations. You need to do this step for each computer with the Zotero desktop application and for each Zotero connector if you use more than one web browser. Once signed in, you should not have to do this step again.

In the Zotero desktop application:

  • Go to Edit
  • Select Preferences
  • Click on Sync
  • Sign in with your Zotero account

In the Zotero connector:

  • Right-click on the Zotero icon in your web browser bar
  • Select Options
  • Under Save to Zotero.org, Click Authorize
  • Sign in with your Zotero account
  • Accept the defaults

There are videos for the Zotero connector setup available on the Zotero Connector Setup page.

Setup Syncing between Zotero Desktop & Zotero.org

Zotero is not cloud-based. What does that mean?

It means that you will need to sign in to your account when using the Zotero Connector and Zotero.org in order to save your citations across multiple computers. As long as you are signed in, syncing should happen automatically when your start the Zotero desktop application.

  1. Open the Zotero desktop application (shown on Windows 10 below)open zotero desktop application
  2. Click Edit, click Preferencesclick edit, click preferences
  3. Click the Sync tab. Login then click Set Up Syncing. If you didn't create an account at Zotero.org, click Create Account - follow the steps then come back to set up the sync tab.
    click sync, login or create an account
  4. Your username should be displayed. Click OKyour username should appear, click ok
  5. Syncing is automatic but if you need to manually sync, Click the Green Arrow icon.syncing is automatic, to manually sync click on green arrow

For more information about syncing - visit the Zotero & Syncing page, listed on the left.