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Guide on this free citation manager

Collecting References: Books and Articles

If Zotero detects that you're looking at a book or article on a library catalog or database, or at a site like or the New York Times, you'll see a book or page icon in the address bar of your browser. Click the icon and Zotero will save the citation.

TIP: When saving citations, it's best to double-check information such as author names and source type. Zotero, like all citation managers, is good but not perfect. Citations often need manual correction.

(The first screenshot below is from GSU Libraries, but the instructions are the same for Rowan University.)

Screenshot of Library catalog record, the Zotero icon that appears in the browser bar, and the "Save to My Library" message that appears in the lower right after you save a citation

The screenshot below shows the Zotero icon for a book (appears on the right side of the browser bar). Other source types (e.g., articles, websites) have different icons.

Screenshot of Zotero book icon that appears on the right side of the browser bar

Search results and the folder icon: 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.

Screenshot of a Google Scholar results page, the Zotero folder icon (in browser bar), and the Zotero dialog box that lists the search results from which to select references

Collecting References: Other Web Sites

Other Web Sites  

Zotero can't automatically capture citation info from some web pages, but you can still add them to your Zotero library.

Right-click in your browser and choose "Save to Zotero." This will save a new "web page" item to your library. Add any additional information to the citation (author, etc.).

Zotero will also attach a snapshot of the page to the citation. Taking a snapshot saves a copy of the page to your computer. It includes the page's text and images, so if the page is removed later, or if you're offline, you'll still be able to view your copy.

Screenshot of a website "snapshot" that is added to a Zotero website reference

Adding items manually

Screenshot of the "Add Item" icon that allows you to add sources manuallySometimes you may need to add an item to your library by hand.  Use the green "plus" icon and choose the type of item from the dropdown list.  A window will open with the appropriate fields to complete for that item type.

Organizing Your Library

Click the Zotero button at the bottom of your browser to open your library. At the top left is a folder button with a green plus sign. Click this "New Collection" icon to create a new folder.

Use "collections" to organize your references. Collections are like file folders, but a single reference can be stored in more than one collection at a time. (For example, a book on the Civil War could be filed in your "Civil War" collection, your "Georgia History" collection and your "19th Century America" collection without having to make three copies of the reference.)

Below is a screenshot of the New Collection icon and the dialog box that prompts you to name the new collection.

Screenshot of the New Collection icon (folder with green plus sign) and the dialog box that prompts you to name the new collection

Saving PDFs

If you already have PDFs from past research, just drag and drop them from a desktop folder into your Zotero library. Zotero will automatically search online and, when possible, match the PDFs with citations.

Attaching Files

Zotero automatically saves PDFs along with citations whenever possible. (You can change this in the preferences menu if you wish.) Attachments take up space in your Zotero account -- you get 300 MB free and can buy more space if needed.

Attach files manually by dragging a PDF (or other file) into your Zotero pane.  Dropping a file onto a collection, or in between library items, will copy it into your library as a standalone item.  Dropping it onto an existing item will attach it to that item.  This is the easiest way to attach a copy of an article to its citation in your library.

Each item also has an Attachments tab in the right column.  You can attach files by clicking the Attachments tab and then the Add button.

Below is a screenshot of a Zotero library reference that has file attachments. The reference's Attachments tab includes an Add button that allows you to add more attachments.

Screenshot of a Zotero library reference with file attachments and the "Add attachments" button that is available in that refence's "Attachments" tab

Saving citations video tutorial