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Hope Library Guides

Zotero: Zotero Step-by-Step

What is Zotero?

What is Zotero?

Zotero is a free, open source citation manager originally developed by the Center for History and New Media at the George Mason University and now developed by the Corporation for Digital Scholarship.

Zotero works with Firefox, Safari, and Chrome browsers.  Zotero also adds functionality to Microsoft Word (Mac or Windows) and OpenOffice (Mac, Windows, Linux) through a citation plugin.

Installing Zotero

Step 1: Install Zotero

Zotero can be installed on most operating systems (Mac, Windows, Linux, and iOS). 

To install, go to and click the red "Download" button. Zotero will recognize your operating system and display the appropriate install file to download. You will also need to download the Zotero Connector for your preferred browser. 


If you have any problems, check the Zotero installation help page.

Step2: Check for the Word or OpenOffice Plugin

The word processor plugins are bundled with Zotero and should be installed automatically for each installed word processor when you first start Zotero.

Windows Word plugin will add a tab to your Word ribbon called Zotero:


Creating Your Zotero Account / Zotero Groups

Setting Up your Zotero Account

Use this form to register for a new Zotero account. You need a Zotero account to use the groups features and to enable syncing.

Sync your Zotero Account with your Zotero Installation

Open Zotero, Select the "Edit" menu and "Preferences"


Select the "Sync" tab from the Preferences menu and add your account information.


When you sync the first time, you may need to use the sync now button  to get the sync started immediately.


Using Zotero Groups

Zotero's Groups feature allows you to share references with other Zotero users online. It's a great way to work on collaborative research projects.

First, log in at There's a "Log In" link in the top right corner of the page.

You can search for existing public groups or create a new group. Groups may be public (searchable, and anyone can join) or private (users can only join if invited).

Quick tip:  Be sure to setup Group settings This is where you name your group, invite group members, and determine access rights for your group members.  On the Library Tab for your group, be sure to give your group members rights to add and edit (if that's appropriate).

Setting your Preferences / Citation Format / Associating PDFs

Zotero works with an enormous number of citation formats.  You can set your default format from the preference menu:


If you would like any associated PDFs attached to your Zotero citation information, you must select the box "Automatically attach associated PDFs and other files when saving items" from the "gear" menu>Preferences>General:


Find Full Text Links (aka openURL linking) and Zotero

 You've probably seen the "Find Full Text" button in some article databases that allows you to locate the full text of an article online. Zotero allows you to use the same feature.

To enable Zotero to access the "Find Full Text" server, click the gear button on the Zotero toolbar and choose Preferences. Select the Advanced tab. Near the bottom, paste this URL into the "OpenURL" box:‚Äč

Then select OK. Once you've set this up, you can click the Library Lookup button on any citation you're viewing to search for the item online.

Preferences: Proxies

It seems like a great idea to check the box to "enable proxy redirection," but it's really not.  Especially if you do research at several universities, this option can cause problems and general proxy confusion.  Please keep the box un-checked:


Collecting References

Hands-on activity: With Zotero running, go to PsycINFO and do a search (sample search:  aspergers syndrome). Select any single item. Click on the Zotero article icon in your browser's extension bar. Watch for the pop-up message that the reference was added to your library.

Try adding citations from a publisher web site - Elsevier - Child Abuse & Neglect

Try adding items from Amazon, New York Times

Taking Snapshots of Web Pages

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

By Default, Zotero will offer to save a snapshot of a given web page. 

A snapshot is a copy of the page saved to your computer. It includes the page's text and images, so if the page is removed later, you will continue to have a visual representation of the page available for your use.

You can also save a snapshot via Zotero's "right-click" menu:




Managing References & Folders

Click the folder icon () at the top left of the Zotero window to create a new collection (Zotero calls folders "collections").  To populate the collection/folder, you can:

  • Drag items from the center pane into the collection/folder.
  • Click on the folder to select it, then add new citations from database searches.  These "new" citations are saved in whichever folder is highlighted.

Important Notes About Folders:

  • Citations are automatically saved to your "My Library" folder.  You can also copy a citation to as many difference folders as you like, but the citation is always part of your over-all "My Library" folder.
  • If you delete a citation from your "My Library" folder, the citation is moved to the Trash folder.
  • If you delete a citation from another folder, the citation will no longer show up in that folder, but IS still part of your "My Library" folder.

Backup Your Library

After all the care and feeding you will do to grow your Zotero library, is there anything more important than backing up your files?  No?  I didn't think so.  Please backup your data early and often.  The details are available at: