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Zotero citation management

How to effectively use Zotero, the citation management software

Add Citations to Papers While You Write

Zotero can help you create and manage citations and reference lists right in your documents. If you use MS Word or LibreText, you need a Zotero word processing plugin. The Zotero tool for Google Docs is pre-installed so you don't have to add anything.

In all of these word processors, the plugin/tool displays a Zotero toolbar in your word processor that allows you to choose your citation style and then add formatted in-text citations and automatically updates your References list at the end of your document while you write. 

Create Citations in MS Word

Install MS Word Plug-in for Zotero

Start by installing the Zotero Word Processor plugin for Microsoft Word by closing Word and opening Zotero. In Zotero, 

  • Click Edit menu / Preferences / Cite button / Word Processors tab.
  • Click "(Re)Install MS Word Add-in" button.
  • Reopen Word.

If the Zotero tab did not appear after restarting MS Word, troubleshoot on the Zotero Support pages

Create in-text citations in MS Word

Once the plugin is installed, you should see a taskbar option in MS Word that looks like the image below: 

Zotero toolbar plug-in in MS Word

To add an in-text citation to a Word document, click the Zotero tab on your MS Word toolbar and then click the "Add/Edit Citation" button. Search for the reference you want from your Zotero Library list, click that reference, and press enter. Zotero will add the citation at the location of your cursor in the document. 

Create an automatically updated references list

At the end of your paper, click the "Add/Edit Bibliography" button on the Zotero tab of the MS Word toolbar. Any in-text citations in your document will appear in the full reference form in a list. New in-text citations will be added to the references list automatically. Change bibliographic styles with the "Document Preferences" button.

The toolbar looks different on different operating systems and versions of Word. Hovering your cursor over the toolbar will pop up each button's function if they're not clearly labeled.

Zotero citation video tutorial

This video tutorial covers the topics described in the box above: how to install the MS Word plug-in, create in-text citations, and create an automatically updated reference list with Zotero in MS Word: 

Zotero with Google Docs

Zotero also works with Google Docs. You must have the Zotero Connector installed in Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Instead of a toolbar with buttons, as in the Word screenshot above, look for the Zotero drop-down menu in your Google Docs editor.

Screenshot of Zotero menu in Google Docs

Adding additional styles to Zotero

Zotero comes with the most common bibliographic styles, but many more are available to download.

To install a style:

  1. Go to the Zotero Style Repository page.
  2. Search for the name of the style you need.
  3. Download the style (right-click the Install link and choose Save As).
  4. Open Zotero preferences. Click Cite, then Styles, then the "+" button, and select the style you downloaded (a .CSL file).

The new style will appear in Zotero's style lists.