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Zotero citation management

How to effectively use Zotero, the citation management software

Get to know your Zotero Library

This is what a working Zotero Library looks like:

Zotero library image

Navigate the Columns

Each column of your Zotero Library helps you tackle certain activities, from organizing the overall library to updating item-level details. 

Left Column: Collections and Tags

The left column contains your Libraries and Collections and the Tags box. This column helps you organize your overall Zotero Library. 

Middle Column: Item List

The middle column lists the items in your Library. You can view all the items in your Library (by clicking My Library in the left column), or view items by Collection.

Right Column: Item Details

The right column displays bibliographic details about each article or item under the Info tab. It's always a good idea to double check author names or other citation details as you add new items. You can also view or add your own Notes or Tags about each article using those tabs.

Create a New Collection

Create a New Collection (folder)

Organize your items in folders (called “Collections”) by classes, subjects, or projects in the left-side column. 

Add a new Zotero Collection

To create new Collection, right-click on My Library (see image at left) or click on the New Collection icon that looks like a yellow folder with a green and white star on it. 

You can drag and drop your folders/collections to organize them as you build. Add items to Collection folders by dragging and dropping them from the Item List (middle column) or indicating the Collection folder when you use the Zotero Connector to add new items.

Edit Item Details

Edit Item Details

Edit item details by clicking into field box next to metadata type in Info tab To edit an item's Info details, click into a specific detail in the "Info" tab in the right column. In the example at right, the user is clicked into an author's last name, which has opened an editable field.

Whenever you add new items to your Zotero library, it is a good idea to double-check and fix any problems with the item's details. 

Personalize Item View

Personalize your Item List View

To adjust which details you view about the items in the middle column, click on the options icon on the top right of the middle column. The Title will always display. In the example below, the user has also chosen to display the Creator, Item Type, Year, and Attachments for each item in the list. Rearrange the details order by dragging and dropping on the top line.

Choose Item List display

Add Tags & Notes to Items

Add and Use Tags & Notes

In the right-side column, you can also view or add your own Notes or Tags for each article using those tabs.

Tags added to specific items in the right-side column will be organized and accessible in the left-side column Tags box (below the "My Library" Collections - see image below). Zotero will also automatically assign Tags from keywords or other metadata related to the items you save. Using the Tags box in the left column, you can sort or search all items in all your Zotero libraries by keywords or subjects. 

Arrow pointing out Tags tab in right column and second red arrow pointing to Tags list in left column to show where new Tags appear