Hege Library & Learning Technologies

Digital Citation Management with Zotero

A guide to digitally managing citations using Zotero, an open-source, free, & easy-to-use tool that helps you collect, organize, cite, and share research.

Video: Creating a Reference Manually

Source: SUNY Fredonia's Reed Library Guide to Zotero

Video: Saving a Source with the Browser Connector Button

Source: SUNY Fredonia's Reed Library Guide to Zotero

Creating Collections

You can organize sources in your Zotero library in groups which Zotero refers to as "Collections." You can focus each individual collection around a specific class, topic, or assignment, to group sources together.

You can create a new collection using the "New Collection..." button, which looks like a folder with a green arrow  and is located at the top left of the application window.

If you need to move a source from one collection to another, simply drag it from the central pane and drop it on the relevant collection in the menu on the left-hand side.

Saving Sources Automatically Using the Browser Connector Button

Using the browser connector button, you can automatically save and add sources to your Zotero library - at the press of a button! The Zotero application needs to be open for you to do this, and sources will be added to whichever collection is currently open (though you can specify another collection from a dropdown when the pop-up message appears letting you know your source is being saved).

For best results, we recommend using Zotero with the library catalog and with library databases: these resources have lots of information on the sources you are saving, which will be pulled into Zotero for you. You can definitely still save sources from other places (newspaper articles, blog posts, videos, etc.) - you will just likely need to put in a little more work to gather citation information and input it into Zotero, as Zotero may not be able to grab all the necessary information automatically.

Screenshot of Zotero browser connector button on different browsers

The image above, from Wake Forest's ZSR Library's Guide to Zotero, shows you what the browser connector button looks like on different browser. Depending on what you are looking at, the icon will change to match. In the image above, the icon looks like a folder Zotero folder icon: it will look like this when you are viewing a page of search results in a library database or catalog. When you press it, you will be able to choose any and all of the search results on the page that you would like to save to your Zotero library. When you are viewing a single item's record, such as a book record in the catalog Zotero book icon or an article record in a database Zotero article icon, it will change to match, and you will save just that item to your Zotero library.

When the browser connector button adds a source to your Zotero library, it also adds a link to the original source on the web, so you can get back to it. It will even add a link to a full-text PDF for a library database article, when one is available. You can access these by clicking the dropdown arrow next to an item in the list. You can also associate your own PDFs from your computer with an item record. Zotero does have a storage limit, and you need to pay for a subscription to increase it, so we do not recommend adding all of your PDFs directly to your Zotero library.

Screenshot of an item record being edited in Zotero

You can add or edit information for any source you have saved to your library: simply click on the source in your library, then on its "Info" page, click the text field for the area you want to add or edit and start typing. See the screenshot at right for details of what this might look like.

Creating a Reference Manually

You can also add sources manually to your Zotero library, using the "New Item" button shaped like a white plus sign in a green circle Zotero new item button. Simply choose the type of item you are adding (there are lots to choose from - artwork, audio recording, interview, letter, podcast, thesis, webpage...), and input as much information as you can about the item.

Adding Notes

You can take notes on your sources from within Zotero: simply navigate to the source's "Notes" tab and add a new note, then begin typing your notes. You can associate multiple notes with a single source, if desired.

Your notes are "attached" to your source, and appear in a dropdown underneath them (see screenshot below). This is the same spot where links or full-text PDFs grabbed using the browser connector button will appear.

Screenshot of a Zotero item record with notes attached