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Citation: Zotero

What is Zotero?

Zotero logoZotero is citation-management software, which means it helps you collect, manage, and cite any sources you find. It’s useful for staying organized, but it also helps by saving you time during the research process.

Since it’s an open-source tool, you can create a free account as you long as you’re fine with having a 300MB storage limit. This tends to be more than enough storage for people’s time at Gettysburg.

If you have more questions or want to learn more about Zotero’s advanced features after reading this guide, you can always schedule a short research appointment with a librarian.

Getting Started

Step 1

Register for Zotero online and create a free account using any email address you'd like
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Step 2

Visit the Download page and install two things:
  • The desktop application
  • The browser connector
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Step 3

Once installation is complete, open the desktop application and navigate to Preferences > Sync so you can connect your free online account to your downloaded application

Saving Sources to Zotero

You need to have the desktop application open before Zotero can save anything. Whichever folder (collection, in Zotero’s terms) you have selected is where it will try to save sources.

Any time you’re viewing a source online, you can use the browser connector icon next to your URL bar to save the source information. Just click the icon next to your URL bar and wait for confirmation that Zotero successfully saved the item. You’ll notice that this icon changes depending on what Zotero thinks you’re viewing at the time (e.g., book, journal article, video).

Managing Sources in Zotero

Zotero stores all of your sources in collections, so you’ll use the desktop application to develop a file structure that works for you. This might mean creating collections (folders, basically) for different classes with subcollections for individual assignments. Regardless of your collection structure, every source you add to Zotero will live in a searchable library associated with your account.

The Zotero Desktop Application

Citing Sources with Zotero

Creating Bibliographies

Zotero application with folder selected and Create Bibliography from Collection chosen from dropdown menuIf you right click on a collection or item in Zotero, you’ll have the ability to create a bibliography. It will ask you to select a citation style, so pick from the list. If you don’t see the style you need, there are ways to add more. After you've chosen a style, the easiest option is to Copy to Clipboard so you can paste the bibliography somewhere else.

Please Note: Zotero will make occasional mistakes when creating reference lists, so you need to be familiar enough with the citation style to spot errors. That being said, it's so much more convenient to generate a bibliography and then edit it yourself than it is to write your own bibliography from scratch and then go back and edit it—Zotero is still a timesaver even when it's not perfect.

Word Processor Integration

As another perk, downloading Zotero will automatically integrate it into Microsoft Word and Google Docs. If you’re writing a paper, look at the top toolbar for a Zotero option. This will give you access to a few useful features:

Microsoft Word interface with Zotero selected and arrows showing how to insert in-text citations with Add/Edit Citation, insert bibliographies with Add/Edit Bibliography, and change citation style with Document Preferences