Skip to Main Content

Citation Management Software

A guide for tools to help manage citations and build bibliographies

What is Zotero?

Stylized image of "Zotero"

Zotero is a free citation management program that helps you collect and organize your research information.

It can help you build personal library of source information from articles, books, documents, web pages, and more.  This personal library of sources can work with your word processing tool to format a paper in your choice of style.

  • Save citations from databases, web sites, and library catalogs
  • Manage, tag, and organize citations into collections
  • Cite sources as you write and create reference lists in a wide variety of styles (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago, ASA, Vancouver, etc.)
  • Attach PDFs, images, web page snapshots, reading notes, and more to citations in your collection
  • Share Zotero libraries with others using Zotero groups 
  • Mark up PDFs with highlights, notes, and image annotations (new in Zotero 6!)

How Do I Get Zotero?

  • Zotero can be used on the web (with a free account), but we highly recommend you can download the free, open-source software (for Mac, Windows, and Linux) and the browser extensions (for Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari [not currently well supported].
  • Be sure to register for a free account and sync your account to your desktop app. 
  • Zotero also provides word processor plugins for Microsoft Word on Mac and Windows, LibreOffice, and Google docs. The plugins will automatically appear as Zotero toolbars next time you open Word or Google Docs after installing the Zotero app.

Add Sources to Your Zotero Library

Enter manually

  • Select the green plus button in the top middle of your Zotero library screen and then 'new item'.
  • Select material type (don't miss out on the many source options under 'More').
  • Enter information in the pane on the right hand side of the Zotero window.

Import from your favorite database 

  • Make sure the Zotero application is open.
  • Make sure you have the connector for your search engine installed.
  • Conduct a search and click on the Zotero icon in your browser (it could be a book icon, a folder icon, a paper icon, a video icon, etc. depending on the type of source).
  • Item will be saved immediately in your Zotero library. Drag the reference to the appropriate Zotero collection if you have created them.
  • You can also export a citation using the RIS file option if available.

Upload PDFs

  • If you have downloaded PDFs of articles or books from library databases or publisher websites, Zotero can often find the citation metadata attached to them. NOTE: This will not work on an optically scanned image PDF. There are two ways to add your PDFs:
    • Drag and drop a PDF into your Zotero library. After a few seconds, Zotero may find and add the citation information. If the citation information does not after a few seconds, right-click and select 'Retrieve metadata for PDF'.  OR
    • Select the green plus button in the top middle of your Zotero library screen and then 'Link to file'. Upload the file. After a few seconds, Zotero may find and add the citation information. If the citation information does not after a few seconds, right-click and select 'Retrieve metadata for PDF'. 

Use Identifier Numbers (DOI, PMID, ISBN, arXiv)

  • Use this if you have a DOI, PubMed ID (PMID), ISBN, or arXiv number.
  • Select the magic wand icon in the top middle of your Zotero library screen.
  • Enter the number into the pop up window that appears at the top of your browser.

Create a Bibliography in Zotero

So easy!

  • Highlight one or more references in your Zotero library, or select a collection.
  • Right click (or control-click on Macs) to select 'Create Bibliography from Selected Item(s).'
  • Select a citation style for your bibliography format and choose an output format. 
  • The default export is to a RTF file - you might find it easier to Copy to Clipboard and then paste the list in your paper.

Cite While You Write a Paper Using Zotero

Google Docs

  • The first time you use Zotero in google docs, you'll need to authenticate the plugin with your Google account.
  • Make sure the Zotero app is open in your computer.
  • To add a citation, either click the Z button in the toolbar ("Add/Edit Zotero Citation") or click the Zotero menu, both of which will bring up a dialog box.
    • You will first have to select a citation style, so look out for a pop-up box from the Zotero app.
  • Type part of a title, author, or year and your citations will begin to appear.
  •  Screenshot showing citation selection in Zotero in google docs

  • To cite a particular page/pages, click on your citation choice and type the page number:
  • screenshot of entering page example in zotero in google docs

  • To create a bibliography/works-cited page in Google docs, first have your cursor in the place you want your page to go.
  • Then click "Add/Edit Bibliography" in the Zotero menu, which will generate a bibliography based on your Zotero citations in the document.
    • You can edit which items appear in the bibliography by clicking the “Add/Edit Bibliography” button again, which will open the bibliography editor. 

Microsoft Word or Open Office

  • The Zotero Word Plug-In should have downloaded automatically; see here to install manually.
  • Open Zotero first and make sure you're logged into your account.
  • Open Microsoft Word or LibreOffice. The Zotero tool bar will be under 'add-ins' on a PC or 'view' 'toolbars' on a MAC.
  • Place your cursor in your document where you want to add the citation.
  • From the Zotero tool bar, select 'Add/edit citation'.
  • Choose the citation style then click 'ok'. A large Zotero search box will appear.
  • Search for your citation and hit the return button.
  • To insert the bibliography at the end of the paper, select 'Add/edit bibliography' from the Zotero tool bar. It will automatically update as you add more in-text citations or footnotes to your paper.

More Zotero Support