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Zotero Links

Zotero is a Firefox add in and a standalone download for Chrome and Safari that collects, manages, and cites research sources. It's easy to use, lives in your web browser where you do your work, and best of all it's free.

Zotero allows you to attach PDFs, notes and images to your citations, organize them into collections for different projects, and create bibliographies.

NOTE: Zotero is hosted on a US server and does not comply with  BC's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) which  requires that the mandated use of systems located outside of Canada must be with prior written consent if the user has to provide personal information.

Using Zotero - Basics

Installing Zotero - Firefox

  1. Go to the Zotero Download page.
  2. Click the Zotero for Firefox link.
  3. When you see the message "Firefox prevented this site from asking you to install software on your computer," click Allow.
  4. Click Install Now, and Zotero will download and install. You can either restart Firefox now, or wait until you have installed the word processor toolbar.

Installing Zotero Standalone - Chrome or Safari

  1. Go to the Zotero Download page.
  2. Click on the “Zotero Standalone” link.
  3. Your browser will download the setup file, which you would then use to install Zotero just like any other application on your computer. Make sure to also add the appropriate Zotero Connector for your browser (see buttons under the Zotero Standalone button) to enable one-click metadata scraping from websites.

TIP: There is an existing file titled ‘Zotero Quick Start Guide’ that is in the ‘My Library’ folder. This file has is a detailed introduction to using Zotero.

If you don't see the Zotero “Z” icon in the Firefox toolbar, click the “Open menu” button in the Firefox toolbar (the icon with three horizontal lines) and click Customize. You should see the Zotero icon in either the customization page to the left or the menu panel to the right. Drag the icon where you want it. If you only open Zotero infrequently and would prefer not to take up room in your toolbar, you can keep the icon in the menu panel and use the “Open menu” button to access it.

Adding References - Web Importer

Zotero saves references from most library databases, library catalogues (including TRU's) and even many web pages, with one click. If Zotero detects that you're looking at a book or article in a catalog, database, or a site like, you'll see a book or page icon appear in the address bar of your browser. Click the icon and Zotero will automatically save the citation.

If you're on a page of search results with many items, you'll see a folder icon instead. Click this to get a list of all the items on the page, and check off the ones you want to save.


Adding References - Drag & Drop

Drag one or more PDFs from a dedicated folder on your desktop, shared space or USB driver into your Zotero library.  Zotero can take PDFs of scholarly papers and query the Google Scholar database for matches. The most straight-forward way it does this is by matching up an embedded Digital Object Identifier (DOI), but that's far from necessary. If Zotero finds the PDF in Google Scholar, it creates a new library item for the paper, downloads the bibliographic metadata from and attaches the original PDF to the new item. Begin by dragging your existing PDFs into your Zotero library or use the “Store Copy of File” option from the add new item menu (green plus sign). Once they appear in the middle column, select the ones for which you wish to retrieve metadata. Right click on them and select “Retrieve Metadata for PDF”. If Zotero was able to find a match on Google Scholar, you should be all set. With this feature, there should be no major hurdles to switching to Zotero and taking full advantage of all its powerful search, indexing, organizational and citation features

Creating folders

  1. Click on the Zotero icon in your browser toolbar
  2. Click the folder icon at the top left-hand corner to create a folder
  3. Type in the name of the new folder in the box


To add items to folders

  1. Select, drag & drop


Word processor plugins allow you to insert citations and bibliographies directly into your documents. Installing them is optional but highly recommended.

Inserting Citations Within Word

  1. Go to the Word Processor Plugins page. Choose the most recent version of the plugins if you're installing Zotero for the first time.
  2. Close Word.
  3. Click the link labeled "Install the Word for Windows Plugin" or "Install the Word for Mac Plugin."
  4. When you see the message "Firefox prevented this site from asking you to install software on your computer," click Allow.
  5. Click Allow and Install now as above.
  6. Restart Firefox when prompted.
  7. Place your cursor exactly where you want your in-text citation to appear.
  8. Click on the Add-In tab and click on Zotero Bibliographic Management: Zotero Insert Citation
  9. Search by author, title and press enter to insert

(If you're using Zotero Standalone, you don't need to install Word toolbars; they are included with Zotero Standalone.)


Create a Bibliography

  1. In Word, click on the Add-Ins tab.
  2. Place your cursor exactly where you want the bibliography/reference list/works cited list to appear.
  3. Click Zotero Bibliographic Management: Zotero Insert Bibliography
  4. Proofread your bibliography

There are 3 types of groups:

  • Private Membership: Only members can view your group online and must be invited to join. Good for sharing in private.
  • Public, Closed Membership: Anyone can view your group online, but members must apply or be invited. Good for sharing references or reading lists.
  • Public, Open Membership: Anyone can view your group online and join the group instantly.  Good for crowd sourcing reading lists. 

Create a Group

  1. Sign in to Zotero
  2. Choose Groups menu and click on the link "Create a New Group" under the heading Zotero Groups.
  3. Enter the name of the group and select the type of group that you are creating: Private Membership; Public, Closed Membership; or Public, Open Membership.
  4. Give the group a description, discipline, photo, webpage, and enable comments - all optional settings.
  5. Share your group information
    • If a Private Member Group - Click on "member settings" to invite people to your group
    • If a Public Open or Closed membership - share the URL of your group to others.
  6. Groups that you own or are a member of will appear in your Zotero account.

From RefWorks

  1. Export your citations from RefWorks [insert link here]
  2. Open Mendeley Desktop and login.
  3. Select Add Files and choose Add Files
  4. Browse your computer for your RefWorks file that contains your exported citations, select the file and click Open to import them into Mendeley.
  5. Click the Sync icon to save the references to the web.

Note: If you have attached files in RefWorks, they will NOT be imported.  Save the files to your desktop and save tehm into Mendeley using Add Files.  Mendeley will use the metadata to attach them to the correct record.

From Zotero

  1. In Mendeley Desktop, select Tools and choose Options (PC) or Preferences (Mac)
  2. In the Options window, select the Zotero tab.
  3. Check the box next to Zotero Integration
  4. Mendeley will attempt to locate your Zotero datase.  Click Apply and then OK. All of your existing Zotero records will be imported into Mendeley Desktop.  Going forward, any items that you add to Zotero will be automatically uploaded into Mendeley Desktop.
  5. Click the Sync button to save the referneces to the web.

From EndNote

  1. In EndNote, export your references in XML file format.
  2. Import the file in Mendeley Desktop.
  3. Open Mendeley Desktop and login.
  4. Select Add Files and choose Add Files
  5. Browse your computer for your EndNote file that contains your exported citations, select the file and click Open to import them into Mendeley.
  6. Click the Sync icon to save the references to the web.

Zotero Pros and Cons


  • Open Source
  • Easy to migrate data to and from other tools
  • Synchronizes collections from multiple computers
  • Unlimited ability to create groups
  • Saves webpages
  • Read/annotate PDFs in the program


  • Citations errors that occur during importing do not recommend solutions
  • Need to pay for extra storage