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Zotero QuickStart Guide

Zotero is "a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It lives right where you do your work — in the web browser itself." If you're looking for an alternative to RefWorks or EndNote, you may want to give Zotero a try. (Zotero has their own Quick Start Guide on their site as well.)

Installing Zotero

  1. Go to and click the big red Download button.
    Zotero 1.0 download button image
  2. You'll get a warning that reads, "Firefox prevented this site ( from asking you to install software on your computer." Click the Allow button.(Don't worry - Zotero won't eat your computer.)
    Firefox Warning
  3. Click Install Now
    Install Now
  4. Click Restart Firefox to finish installing Zotero.
    Restart Firefox
  5. Woo hoo - Zotero's installed! Let's use it!

Using Zotero with SearchWorks

  1. Go to and perform a search. For this example, we'll be using a title search to find the Handbook of Online Learning.
    SearchWorks search
  2. Click the title of your result.
    SearchWorks result
  3. A small blue book icon will appear in your address bar. Click it!
    Zotero book icon in address bar
  4. Zotero saves the item to your library.
    Saving Item

Using Zotero with Databases

Zotero also can save references from databases such as Academic Search Premier

  1. Enter your search terms
    Database Search
  2. Select an article
    Database search results
  3. Click the Zotero Article Icon icon in the address bar to save the citation to your library.
    Address bar
  4. Zotero saves the citation to your library.
    Saving article to your Zotero library

Working with Your Zotero Library

  1. Click the Zotero Logo Zotero logo at the bottom right of your browser window to open your library.
  2. You have several options to add information to each item record:
    Zotero library
    • Info: The bibliographic information, used in citations and bibliographies.
    • Notes: Jot down any supplemental thoughts here.
    • Attachments: You can use this to attach a file, such as the PDF version of an article.
    • Tags: Use tags to categorize your references.
    • Related: Use this tab to define relationships between resources.

Creating a Bibliography

  1. Right-click the resource you would like to cite (hold down ctrl (Windows) or cmd (Mac) to select multiple items).
    Create bibliography
  2. Choose your preferred citation style and choose Copy to Clipboard from the dialog box
    Bibliography dialog box
  3. In your word processing program, Paste the citation(s) into your paper.
  4. Presto! A properly-formatted reference list appears!

Using the Word Processor Plugin

You can install the optional word processor plugins to further integrate Zotero with your paper writing. Plugins are available for Word 2000 and later on Windows and Mac OS X, and for OpenOffice and NeoOffice.

Installing the plugin gives you a Zotero toolbar:
screenshot of Zotero for Word toolbar
From which you can insert and edit citations, and insert and edit your bibliography (aka "References").

Syncing Your Library

Zotero also allows you to backup and sync your Zotero library with your account on

  1. Register for a free account on (you also can log in with an OpenID account).
  2. Open your Zotero preferences
    Open Zotero preferences
  3. Go to the Sync tab, enter your user name and password in the Zotero Sync Server section, and close the preferences window.
    Enter your user name and password in the sync section of the Zotero preferences
  4. Click the sync button to sync your library
    Zotero sync button

Configuring Duplicate Detection

This is a "hidden feature".

In the Firefox address bar, type about:config
screenshot of entering about:config in the Firefox address bar

Right-click (control-click on a Mac) anywhere in the preferences window and choose New->Boolean.
screenshot of creating a new preference

Enter the following for the preference name:


and click OK
screenshot of entering the preference name extensions.zotero.debugShowDuplicates

Choose true for the value and click OK
screenshot of selecting true for the value of the boolean preference

Restart Firefox.

In the Firefox gear menu, you should now have the Show Duplicates option.
screenshot displaying the show duplicates option in the Zotero gear menu

Finding Full-Text Articles Online

You can use Zotero to find full-text versions of articles online (a.k.a., "Find it @ Stanford").

Click the gear icon and choose Preferences...
Open Zotero Preferences

Go to the Advanced tab and enter the following URL in the Resolver: field under OpenURL:

Zotero Advanced Preferences pane

Then, when looking at the Info tab for a reference, click the Locate button:
Screenshot of the Locate button in the Zotero interface

You'll be taken directly to the Find it @ Stanford screen, where you can choose from a number of different sources for full-text availability:
Screenshot of Find it at Stanford interface

Zotero Groups

Once you've created a free account on, you can collaborate with others using Zotero Groups. You can create your own group, making membership open or closed. Group members can then create shared libraries, including attached documents (only available to closed groups).

More Zotero Resources