Using the free reference management tool Zotero
Collaboration for Evidence Based
Health Care in Africa (CEBHA)
• Why use a reference management tool?
• Zotero functionality
• Creating your Zotero library
• Adding references to your Zotero library
• Managing your documents and references
• Creating bibliographies
• Using Zotero with MS Word
Typical researcher writing a paper…
article Your paper
• Lots of typing
book • Lost references
conference reference list/bibliography
Use a reference management tool!
article Your article
conference reference list/bibliography
Reference management tools
• Tools that help scholars to create and manage
their lists of references for research projects.
• Most tools are designed to organize citations
into specific formats for the preparation of
manuscripts and bibliographies.
• Many search tools provide ways to download
references into reference management tools.
• Zotero is a free reference management
tool, that is available as an add-on for the
Firefox web browser.
• The Firefox web browser can be
downloaded for free at:
• To download and install Zotero go to:
• Zotero recognizes bibliographic information on
books, journal articles, and other resources from
websites and databases and extracts metadata
from these sources.
• Store related PDFs, files, images, and links in
• Create a bibliography in Word or OpenOffice.
• Publish shared libraries for your organization,
class, or research group
Before you can install Zotero, you first
need to install the Firefox web browser.
Firefox can be downloaded from:
Next, go to the Zotero website at
http://www.zotero.org and click on the
red Download button.
A box will appear, click on Install Now
• Open the Firefox web browser
• Go to the website: www.zotero.org
• To install Zotero, click on
• After installation, restart Firefox
To open Zotero, click on the
Zotero logo in the bottom right of
This will open the Zotero window within the browser. The
window has three columns that represent different levels of
specificity for your references:
• The left column shows your Zotero libraries and collections
as well as 'tags' (keywords)
• The middle column displays items contained within the
• The right column displays information about a selected item.
Left column Middle column Right column
Many of Zotero's features
can be customized via the
Zotero preferences. To
access the Zotero preference
window, open Zotero, click
the actions menu button (the
'gear' icon) at the top of the
left column and select the
Within Zotero you can create collections to
organize your references.
To create a new collection, click on the New
Collection icon in the left column.
A box will appear prompting you to name your
new collection. Choose a name and click OK.
Your collection will appear in the left column.
• In the Firefox web browser, click on the
Zotero logo in the bottom right corner to
• In the left column, click on ―New
Collection‖ icon ( ) and name this
Adding citations to Zotero
• You can add citations to your library
in several ways:
– Manually enter citation information
– Import citation information for a single item
– Import citation information for multiple items
– Automatically cite web pages
– Add an item by identifier (ISBN, DOI or PMID)
To create a citation manually in Zotero, click on the
New Item icon in the middle column.
A pull-down menu will appear. Select the type of item
you want to cite, here we select Journal Article.
In the right column, you will find fields that are
specific to the type of item you selected. Fill in those
fields for your item.
• In Zotero, click on the New item icon ( )
in the middle column.
• Select to add a Book and enter the following
title, author, publisher and publication date:
World Health Organization, 2006
Zotero is compatible with many databases,
If you are looking at an individual record in
PubMed, an Article icon will appear in the address
bar of your browser.
If you click on this icon, the citation information will
be immediately added to your Zotero library.
A full overview of databases
supported by Zotero is available on:
If you are on a page with a list of PubMed
results, you will see a Folder icon in the address
bar of the browser.
If you click on the icon, a box will appear with a
list of all records to import. Select the records
you would like to import and click on OK.
• Go to PubMed and do a search for articles
about: “face washing” AND trachoma
• When you are on the results page, click on the
Folder icon in the address bar:
• Select some articles to import into Zotero and
click on OK
To import citations for webpages into your
library, click on the Create New Item from
Current Page icon in the middle column.
Information about the current webpage will
automatically be saved. You can edit the
information by clicking on the fields in the
Another way to add a new item is by
using the Add Item by Identifier option of
Zotero. You find this icon in the middle
column. You can enter an ISBN, DOI or
PMID. Zotero will look up the information
and import it into your library.
Attaching files to items
• In Zotero, any type of file can be attached to an item.
• Items such as the PDF of an article or images can be
opened in the Firefox window, while other file-types open
in external programs.
• You can add attachments to items by clicking on the
button in the middle column that looks like a paperclip:
• All files stored in the Zotero library are kept in a folder
within the Firefox profile directory (unless another
location is specified in the Advanced preference tab).
Creating bibliographies from Zotero
• To create a bibliography from Zotero, highlight one or
more references and then right-click to select ―Create
Bibliography from Selected Item(s).‖ Then select a
citation style for your bibliography format and choose
one of the following four ways to create your
– Save as RTF will allow you to save the bibliography as a rich text
file, which can be opened for example in Word.
– Save as HTML will allow you to save the bibliography as a HTML
file for viewing in a web browser.
– Save to Clipboard will allow you to save the bibliography to your
clipboard to paste into any text field.
– Print will send your bibliography straight to a printer.
To create a Zotero
• Select the items you want
to include in the middle
• Next, right-click the
• Choose the option Create
Bibliography from Selected
Items, a new dialog box
• Choose the Citation Style
you would like to use
• Choose the Format (RTF
or HTML) to save your
• Click on OK
This is an example of a Zotero
bibliography that was created
using the Harvard citation style
and RTF as format.
• In Zotero, Select the items you have imported
from PubMed in the middle column.
• Next, right-click the selected items.
• Choose the option Create Bibliography from
Selected Items, a new dialog box will appear.
• Choose the Citation Style you would like to use
• Choose the Format RTF
• Click on OK
• Open the saved document with MS Word
Word Processor Integration
• Zotero's Word and OpenOffice plugins allow users to
insert citations directly from their word processing
• You can find a link to install the plugin on the Zotero
• After installation of the plugin you should see this row of
icons in your Microsoft Word toolbar:
• These six buttons allow you to manage references and
bibliographies in your Microsoft Word documents.
Citing in Word - example
Using The Zotero Word Plugin
Click on the “Zotero Insert Citation” icon
• If this is the first citation you
have added to the document
the Document Preferences
window will open. Chose the
bibliographic format you
would like to use from the
list and click OK.
Adding a Citation in Word
• Once you have chosen a format, the ―Add Citation‖
window will pop up. Sort through your collection in this
window, select the item you would like to cite and click
You can add the
number in the text
box at the bottom
of the window.
Generating a bibliography
• To generate a bibliography from all the items you have
referenced, click the ―Zotero Insert Bibliography‖ button
( ) on the Zotero toolbar in Word.
• The edit citation ( ) and edit bibliography ( )
buttons allow you to edit citations and bibliographies you
have already inserted into your documents. Click inside
a citation or bibliography and click either button to edit.
• Never use your word processor to edit citations!
Anything you type into (or delete from) a citation using
Word will be automatically reverted the next time Zotero
updates your document.
Generating a bibliography
• The fifth button on the toolbar, ―Zotero Refresh‖ ( )
updates your references to any changes in your Zotero
• The sixth button on the toolbar ( ) will open the
Document Preferences window again, allowing you to
change your bibliographic style instantly.
• A core feature of Zotero is its ability to automatically
format citations and bibliographies.
• By default Zotero comes with a selection of popular
styles (such as APA, Harvard and Vancouver), but many
more are available through the online Zotero Style
• Visit the Style Repository and click the ―[Install]‖ link next
to the style you wish to install.
Zotero Citation Style Repository
Click on the ―[Install]‖ link next to
the style you wish to install.
Which citation style to use?
• Most journals provide information on which reference
style to use in their ―Instructions to authors‖. Look for the
• The Mulford Library Instructions to Authors in the Health
Sciences Guide provides links to web sites which
provide instructions to authors for over 6,000 journals in
health and life sciences:
Zotero web account
• On www.zotero.org you can create a Zotero account.
• You need a Zotero account to synchronize your library,
participate in groups, or post to the support forums.
• Data synchronization transfers library items, notes, links,
tags, etc.—everything except attachment files—between
your local computer and the Zotero servers, allowing you
to work with your data from any computer with the Zotero
extension. It also allows you to view your library online
• To synchronize your data with the Zotero web server,
open Zotero's Sync preferences tab and enter your login
information in the Zotero Sync Server section.
Zotero Online Library
• Zotero Groups provide a way to share collections with a
class, work with colleagues on a project or keep track of
conversations in a specific field of research.
• Groups can be private or public.
• To create a group in Zotero:
Click the New Group icon located in the top left corner of
the left column in Zotero and follow the instructions.
Using Zotero with Portable Firefox
• If you are unable to install Firefox on a
computer, you may still be able to use
Zotero by using Portable Firefox from an
external drive (for example a USB drive).
• In order to use Zotero through Portable Firefox on your
external drive, you will need to
1. Install Portable Firefox and Zotero onto your external drive
2. Move your Zotero library onto the external drive
3. Specify the location of your library in Zotero
• See for detailed instructions:
• On the Support page on the Zotero website
(http://www.zotero.org/support/), which is available in
several languages, you can find documentation on
additional features of Zotero as well as Frequently Asked
Questions and a number of screencast tutorials.
Zotero Screencasts demonstrate
many of the basic functions of
Zotero, such as adding references,
managing your library, and how to
use Zotero in Word.
• A Beginner’s Guide to Using Zotero - UBC
Biomedical Branch Library. Available at:
• Zotero Quick Start Guide. Available at:
This module was developed by:
Ingeborg Nagel, MSc
Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) The Netherlands
Updated 2011 08