This guide teaches you how to use the citation tool Zotero. If you are having difficulties with the tool, scroll down to the bottom to find some troubleshooting tips.
1) What is Zotero? Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. Essentially, Zotero allows you to cite sources in papers properly and then create a list of references once a paper is complete.
2) What are the benefits of Zotero?
Well...it’s free! It’s simple (after you get the hang of it). It’s cloud-based. It’s multi-platform (Windows, Mac, Linux)
3) How do you install it?
(Disclaimer: this is Windows- and Office-based and may be slightly different if using a Linux or Mac operating system)
Although there is a stand-alone version of Zotero with plug-ins to various browsers, the version I prefer is used with the Firefox web browser as it eliminates the need to have Zotero Standalone.
Firefox has “plug-ins” which is how Zotero works in Firefox. Open Firefox and then to download the Zotero plug-in for Firefox.
Now that you have Firefox and the Zotero plug-in, you’ll want to register. This will only take a few minutes and is the standard username and password deal. Registration allows you to access your sources anywhere once you have the Zotero software.
One more step: using Firefox download the Microsoft Word plug-in Firefox extension (there are plug-ins for freeware office suites as well-see the Zotero website for more details). This Firefox plug-in communicates with Word and allows the Zotero citations to be imported into your papers. Consequently, Firefox must be opened/running when writing a paper for Zotero to work!
4) So, how do you use it?
First, you can compile sources into your cloud-based Zotero storage in several ways. You can add sources manually, but the document icon as seen in the web address bar to the left of the star is the quick and easy way to add sources from Google Scholar, PubMed, Amazon, etc.
When you click the document icon to save the citation, you will see a message at the bottom right of your browser that pops up and looks like this:
You can do this for just about anything - websites, texts, articles...almost anything you can find online. You can also organize your citations into folders like I’ve done:
Now, that you have some resources, it’s time to finally put them into your paper. When you open Word, you’ll notice on the ribbon (i.e., at the top of Word), you have a new tab called “Add-Ins”.
Clicking on Add-Ins will reveal all of the Zotero buttons such as “insert citation” and “insert bibliography”.
To start adding sources, simply select the “insert citation” button. An option to choose what style you prefer will appear. Select your preference (If you don’t see the style you need, you can always check the thousands of additional styles found in the Zotero repository).
Once you select your preference, you’ll have a Google search-like bar pop up.
Just type in some information that Zotero would use to identify your source (author name, article title, etc.), select the proper source from the drop down menu, and hit enter. Voilà!
When you are finished with a paper and want to enter your references, just click the “insert bibliography” button that was back under the Add-Ins tab at the top of Word.
Voila! You have your finely formatted paper with less work.
5) Your turn!
Download what you don’t have, register, do some quick searches, and play with Zotero and Word...GO!
6) What else does Zotero offer?
Group work, etc.
7) Limitations of Zotero
Not 100% accurate - you need to double-check the information!
Doesn’t teach students much about APA, MLA, or the other citations styles...just how to click.