Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.


Zotero: Building Your Zotero Library

Current Hours

Margaret Estes Library Hours 


Sunday 3 PM - Midnight                                                                                                                                                                      
Monday - Thursday 8 AM - Midnight
Friday 8 AM - 8 PM
Saturday Noon - 8 PM


Monday-Friday            8 AM - 5 PM


Download Zotero Firefox or Standalone

Zotero is a reference management tool used to build and organize a research library. The desktop software can be freely downloaded  to multiple devices and is compatible with operating systems including Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux.           


PDF Viewer

Files in your library can be accessed by double-clicking the file in the center column. Alternatively, you can right-click the file and selecting “View PDF” or “View in External Viewer” (for PDFs) or “View File”.


Sync Your Library

Zotero's online syncing allows you to access your Zotero library on any computer with internet access. Zotero syncing has two parts: data syncing and file syncing.  Learn more about syncing.     


Manually Add Citations

Adding Items by Hand

To manually add an item to your Zotero library, click the green “New Item” () button at the top of the center column, and select the desired item type from the drop-down menu (the top level of the menu shows recently created item types; the complete list of item types, minus Web Page, can be found under “More”). An empty item of the selected item type will now appear in the center column. You can then manually enter the item's bibliographic information via the right column.

Edit Citations

Editing Items

When you have selected an item in the center column, you can view and edit its bibliographic information via the Info tab of the right column. Most fields can be clicked and edited. Changes are saved automatically as they are made. Some fields have special features, which are discussed below.

Organize and Take Notes

Organizing Your Library and Taking Notes

Understanding Zotero Library

Understanding Zotero Library

Depending on which version of Zotero you have installed, you will access it differently. For Zotero Standalone, you will open the program the way you would open other software programs, typically through the Start menu. 

If you installed Zotero for Firefox, you will need to open Firefox and click on the Zotero button. Zotero can be opened from a Z button in the main Firefox toolbar.

Click to see button in context.


Once you open your Zotero Library, you will see three columns. The left column contains your folders, the middle column includes the article list located in the folder you have open, and the right column displays the citation information for your selected article.

Click to view larger image.


To select a folder or article, click on it. The folder or article you selected will be highlighted, and you will see the information displayed in the columns to the right. If you've clicked on a folder, you will see the article list in the middle column. If you've clicked on an article title, you will also see citation information in the right column.

Adding Citations to Zotero

Web Translators

This feature is available if you have Zotero for Firefox or have installed Zotero Connectors for Chrome, Safari, or Opera in addition to Zotero Standalone. See Installation.

One of Zotero's most convenient features is its ability to find bibliographic information on the web pages you visit. For example, when you are looking at the record for a book in an online library catalog, Zotero's save button will often change to the icon of a book (circled in red):

Chrome users: On supported pages, you can find the icon within the Chrome address bar, on the right-hand side.

Safari users: The icon is just to the left of the address bar, grouped with other Safari icons:

When you click this book icon, Zotero will save all of the bibliographic information about that book to your library, in a newly created “Book” item. On some web pages that list information about multiple items (e.g. a list of Google Scholar search results), Zotero will show a folder icon. Clicking this folder icon will open a window in which you can select the items that you want to save to your library:

If you have selected a collection in the left-hand column of Zotero (that is, a collection is highlighted in the left column rather than “My Library”), items are saved into that collection.

Whether or not Zotero can recognize bibliographic information on a web page depends on the web page. Some websites use a standard way to provide Zotero with data (via embedded metadata). For other sites, Zotero relies on website-specific translators. Zotero works with most library catalogs, several popular websites such as and, and many (gated) databases and websites of scientific publishers. Just look for icons in the toolbar or address bar of your browser (for more information, see our compatible websites list). By default, translator updates are automatically installed, independent of Zotero updates.

Add Item by Identifier

You can quickly add items to your library if you already know their ISBN, Digital Object Identifier (DOI), or PubMed ID. To add an item via one of these identifiers, click the “Add Item by Identifier” button () at the top of the center column of the Zotero pane, type or paste in the identifier and press Enter.

Zotero uses the following databases for looking up item metadata:Library of Congress and WorldCat for ISBNs,CrossRef for DOIs, and NCBI PubMed for PubMed IDs.

Saving Webpages

With Zotero for Firefox, you can create an item from any webpage by clicking the save button in the Firefox toolbar. If the page isn't recognized by a translator, you'll see a gray page icon:

If “Automatically take snapshots when creating items from web pages” is enabled in the General tab of the Zotero preferences, a copy (or snapshot) of the webpage will be saved to your computer and added as a child item. To view the saved copy, double-click the snapshot.

Holding down the Shift key while clicking the save button will temporarily toggle the snapshot setting, allowing you to create a Web Page item with no snapshot even if the snapshot preference is enabled, and vice versa.

With Zotero Standalone, you can create an item with a snapshot from the current page by right-clicking the page background and selecting “Save Page to Zotero”.

Double-clicking a Web Page item without a snapshot in your library will take you to the original webpage. Double-clicking a Web Page item with a snapshot will display the snapshot instead. You can also visit the original webpage by clicking the ”URL:” label to the left of the URL field in Zotero's right pane.


Older versions of Zotero supported annotating webpages and you may still see references to that in forum thread or outdated documentation. Unfortunately, webpage annotations are not currently supported.

Importing from other Tools

You might want to migrate to Zotero but already have an extensive library stored in other reference management software. To import such libraries into Zotero, start by exporting the bibliographic data from your other software program. Then, in Zotero, click the gear icon (gear icon) and select “Import…”. Browse to your file, select it, and click the “Open” button. This should import the exported items into your Zotero library in a date-stamped collection.

For detailed instructions on how to make the switch from Endnote to Zotero, see Importing Records From EndNote.

Zotero can import amongst others the following bibliographic file formats:

  • Zotero RDF
  • MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema)
  • BibTeX
  • RIS
  • Refer/BibIX
  • Unqualified Dublin Core RDF

Note that import/export is generally not recommended for transferring entire Zotero libraries between different Zotero installations. Import/export usually does not give you an exact copy of your Zotero library, and, if you use Zotero's word processor plugins, any links to Zotero items from existing word processor documents will be lost after recreating a Zotero library via export/import. Instead, you can use Zotero's sync features or manually copy the Zotero data directory.

Adding PDFs and other Files

To include a PDF or any other file from your computer in Zotero, simply drag it to Zotero - you can drag to an existing item to attach the file or drag between items to store as an independent item.

To the same effect you can also use “Store Copy of File…” under the green plus sign (independent item) or the “Attach Stored Copy of File” under the paperclip item in the Zotero toolbar (attachment).

For PDFs that you have added as independent items, you can try to automatically download bibliographic data from the internet by right-clicking them and selecting Retrieve Metadata for PDF

Getting Stuff Into Zotero Library