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Zotero 101: Tips and How-Tos

Zotero Basics

  1. Create your free Zotero account profile
    1. Doing so will let you sync your library to any device, access your library online, and participate in groups
  2. Download and install Zotero Standalone
  3. Add your username and password to Zotero Standalone to sync your account
    1. Open the Zotero app on your computer
    2. Click on the gear icon  then choose Preferences
    3. Go to the Sync tab.
    4. Enter your Zotero account information in the Zotero Sync Server settings, and click OK.
  4. Add the browser extensions for your favorite browsers.

For more information about the installation process, view the Zotero Installation Instructions.


  1. Open the Zotero app on your computer before searching
  2. Search a database (e.g. OneSearch, Voyager, EBSCOhost) or website (e.g. Ulukau)
  3. Next to your browser's web address bar, you'll find a Zotero icon.  The Zotero icon that appears will depend on the kinds of materials (e.g. book, article, film, list of results / citations) displayed in your browser.
  4. Click on the icon to add a citation, resource, or web page to your Zotero library.
    1. If there is more than one citation on a page, all the citations will be displayed in a pop up box.  Check the items you want to save and click OK.
  5. A box will pop up in the bottom right corner to let you know your items are being saved.


​PDFs (and other files) can be dragged from your computer to your Zotero library.

  1. Open Zotero and click on a Zotero folder
  2. Drag and drop a PDF into the middle pane
  3. Right click on it and select "Retrieve metadata for PDF"


  1. Click on the "Add new item" icon  in the Zotero app
  2. Choose the type of item, then type in the bibliographic information.


You can create collections (folders) to create specific, well-defined categories within your library.  Note that items can be assigned to multiple categories, and that doing so does not duplicate the item.  For more information about collections & collections properties, view the Zotero Collections and Tags page.

To Create A Collection:

  • Click the "New Collection" button above the left column OR right click on "My Library" and choose "New Collection"
  • Give a name to your collection
  • The new collection will appear as a folder inside "My Collection"
  • Subcollections and be created by dragging and dropping a collection onto another collection OR by right-clicking an existing collection and choosing "New Subcollection"

To Add Items To A Collection

  • New items are automatically added into the selected / active / displayed collection
  • Drag and drop existing items in your Library to the desired collection.  By default, the items will be added to the new collection but won't be removed from the original location.


Like hashtags, Zotero tags allow you to add helpful descriptors to your items.  In addition to adding content-related keywords, think about also adding status / action keywords (e.g. "Read Later," "Cited In Mythology Paper").  For more information about tags, view the Zotero Collections and Tags page

The Tag Selector

  • The tag selector is located at the bottom of the left column
  • It shows all the tags that have been attached to the items currently shown in the center column
  • Click on the multi-color button and select "Display All Tags in This Library" to show all tags in your library.
  • By selecting one or more tags in the tag selector, only items that have been assigned those tags will display in the center column

Bulk Editing Tags

  • To rename a tag across all of its tagged items, right-click the tag in the tag selector and choose "Rename Tag."
  • To delete a tag from all items, right-click the tag and choose "Delete Tag."
  • To assign a tag to multiple items at once, drag a selection of items from the center column onto a tag in the tag selector.


  1. Open Microsoft Word and type your paper
  2. To add a citation, click on the Zotero toolbar
  3. Click "Add/Edit Citation" button.
  4. The Z bar will open (you may be asked to choose a citation style first).  Search for an item in your Library by typing a keyword into the box OR click the "Z" and select "Classic View" to see a list of your Library.
  5. Select a citation and click OK.  The citation will be inserted.

Note: If you are sending your paper to someone else, consider removing the codes.  Zotero inserts codes into Word so the citations can be updated and refreshed.  The codes can be removed, however, if you want to share your document with someone who is not using Zotero.


  1. When you're ready to create a bibliography, move your cursor to where you want to insert it, then click the "Insert Bibliography" button.
  2. To remove a document from the bibliography, delete it and hit the Refresh icon.  All references to it will also be deleted.

Note: You can drag and drop a reference into any text editor (Word, email, blog) to insert a full bibliographic entry.


  1. In the Zotero app, click on the New Group icon next to the New Collection icon in the top left corner.
  2. OR on the Zotero Website, click on the "Create New Group" button located on the Groups tab page.


  • Private Groups - a private collaboration among members without a public presence on the Zotero website.  Only group members are able to see the Group's site.
  • Public (Closed Membership) Groups - joining the group is by invitation only, but the group bibliography is publicly viewable by other Zotero users.
  • Public (Open Membership) Groups - anyone can join and view the group's library.  Within this group, the administrator can hide portions of the group's public library from non-members.


  • Group owner - change group public / private status, control access by members, change group settings, and delete / transfer ownership of a group
  • Administrator - change group public / private status, control access by members, change group settings
  • Members - edit group library according to access level given by administrator or owner