Zotero Reference Manager

What is Zotero?

Zotero is software that allows you to easily collect, manage, and save bibliographic information about the items you find on the Web. It also works with word processing programs to help you easily cite your sources as you write.

Which Zotero?

There are two versions of Zotero. If you are a Firefox user and want to use Zotero within your browser, you can download the Firefox version.

If you want to use Zotero with another browser, or if you want to use it with Firefox as a free-standing application, you'll need to download the standalone version for your platform of choice (Windows or Mac). Make sure that you also download the appropriate connector file for whichever browser you normally use (Chrome, Firefox, or Safari).

Both versions of Zotero and the connector files can be downloaded from Zotero.org.

Adding Items to Zotero

When you visit a page that Zotero recognizes as a bibliographic item, such as an item in a library catalog or database, an icon will appear at the right-hand end of your browser's address bar.  The appearance of the icon depends on the type of resource being viewed, with the most common being the book icon and the lined page icon representing a journal article. Yes, the lined page icon is very hard to see.

Zotero book icon

Zotero page icon

When you click on the icon, information about the item you are viewing will be automatically entered into your Zotero library.

If the page or other resource you want to save does not register with Zotero as a bibliographic source, you can add the item manually using the "new item" button (the green circle with a plus sign), and choose the type of resource that you want to add. This menu allows you to add non-web-based resources such as printed books, letters, and documents.

Zotero item-type menu

Once you have selected the appropriate document type, details about the document may be entered in the right-hand panel.

Zotero data entry screen

When an item has been entered into your Zotero library, not only do you have the link to an item, but Zotero can save a snapshot of the page. You'll find this option under the "Add Attachment" button. This is useful if you want to capture a web page as it appears today, for instance the front page of a news site on the day of an important event.

Creating Bibliographies

Creating Bibliographies

Once you have items saved in Zotero, you can create a bibliography from your items by selecting the items you want to include, right clicking, and choosing "Create Bibliography from Selected Items."

Create a bibliography from selected references

This will open a dialog window that will ask you what style you want to use and what you want to do with the bibliography.  If you choose "Save to clipboard," you can then paste the bibliography into a Word document.

Choose citation style

Using Zotero Across Multiple Computers

Since Zotero is installed software, it lives on a particular machine.  If you routinely use multiple computers, you will probably want to sign up for a Zotero account. This will allow you to sync your Zotero library across computers, or to view your library directly on the Zotero website. You can set your Zotero client to sync automatically in the preferences panel under "Sync."

Contact Us

picture of Ron Gilmour

Ron Gilmour

Web Services Librarian
(607) 274-3674
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Laura Kuo

Health Sciences Librarian
(607) 274-1197


Zotero Tutorials

The videos below demonstrate the use of the "in-browser" Firefox version of Zotero on a Mac. Details may vary slightly for other versions, browsers, and platforms.

Zotero 1: Importing Citation Data


Zotero 2: Formatting References


Zotero 3: In-Text Citations

Getting Help

Zotero does far more than is described in this brief summary. Abundant documentation is available at the Zotero web site. This includes a number of screencast tutorials and information on how to:
  • organize your Zotero library using folders and tags
  • integrate Zotero with your word processing software
  • search within your library
  • add notes and attachments to your references
  • create reports from your library