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Create Bibliographies

What Is Zotero?

Zotero is a bibliographic manager that works as a standalone application in conjunction with a web browser connector.  The connector captures bibliographic information in your web browser and sends it to the app.  Zotero is popular among researchers who want a quick, stream-lined tool for saving references and citing sources while writing.  You can download and install Zotero for free.Once you download the app, be sure to download the proper connector for your web browser as well.

The primary features of Zotero are:

  • Quick capture of bibliographic data from a web page, whether you're looking at a list of search results or a single information source
  • Organizational file structures
  • Bibliography formatting in the most-used citation styles, with more styles available via download
  • Quick in-text citation with a plug-in for MS Word or LibreOffice
  • Reference and file sharing with other Zotero users
  • File attachment and storage capabilities

UPDATE (20 July 2017): If you have been using Zotero for Firefox or the standalone app, you will have to switch to Zotero 5.0 (or newer).  The previous versions of Zotero will no longer be availabe.  See the Zotero blog for more information.

Getting Started with Zotero

Zotero can only be used with the Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari web browsers.  You can download and install Zotero for free.

You will have to install the standalone Zotero app as well as a connector for your browser.  Once both are installed, you can capture bibliographic information from web pages and view, organize, and edit your references in the Zotero application.

Adding References to Your Zotero Library

The main method of adding references to your Zotero library is via the "Save to Zotero" button on your web browser toolbar.  Click the button, and Zotero will analyze the data on the page you're viewing.  If there are multiple information sources (such as when you're looking at search results), you will be able to choose which sources are added to your library.  You will notice that the icon changes depending on what type of information you're viewing (e.g. search results, video, article, etc.)


If you're using Firefox, the button looks like this (click the icon to the right of the Z to capture your references; if you don't see the icon, click the Z):


If you're using Chrome and have downloaded the browser extension, the Save to Zotero button appears here:


If you're using Safari and have downloaded the browser extension, the Save to Zotero button will be located here:


To view your references, open the Zotero standalone app.

Additionally, you can sync your Zotero libraries to an online account.

Note: Zotero only provides 300MB of online storage.  If you want to use Zotero as a cloud-based storage system for your files, you can upgrade to more storage for a fee.  Deleting attachments and snapshots of web pages will greatly reduce the amount of storage you're currently using.

Using Zotero with BU Libraries Search

Normally, Zotero will capture items from a search results list.  This is not always the case with BU Libraries Search (BULS).  To add items from a BULS results list, you will need to download a citation file and import it into Zotero.  To download a single item from BULS, follow these steps:

  1. Click the " button next to the title of the reference you want to import, or click the title of the item.
  2. Choose the Zotero option.
  3. Choose any of the encoding options from the drop-down menu.  If in doubt, choose the US-ASCII option.
  4. Click download.
  5. Choose Save File.  DO NOT choose Save to Zotero, though it may be tempting.
  6. In Zotero, click the Gear icon to open the Actions menu
  7. Select Import.
  8. Choose the file titled Primo_RIS_Export.

You will see a new folder called Primo_RIS_Export in your Zotero collection.  The item you imported should be there.

To export multiple items from BULS to Zotero, follow these steps:

  1. Click the pin icon next to each item in your results list that you would like to send.
  2. Click the pin icon in the top-right of the screen to see all the items you've selected.
  3. Select all (or some) of the items in the list.
  4. Click the ellipsis (...) icon.
  5. Follow steps 2-8 in the list above.

Citing with Zotero

You can integrate Zotero with Microsoft Word using the Zotero plug-in.  Once installed, you can cite any reference in your Zotero library using the Zotero tab on your Word toolbar.  Place the cursor where you wish to add a citation, then click Add/Edit citation in the toolbar.  A search box will appear, and once you start typing the title or author of the paper you wish to cite, options will appear from your Zotero library.

When you have finished your paper, including all in-text citations, you can place your cursor where you would like to position your bibliography, then click Insert Bibliography in the toolbar.  Your bibliography will contain all the sources you've cited in your paper.

Alternatively, you can create quick bibliographies by selecting one or more sources in your Zotero library (in your web browser or in the Zotero standalone app) and right-click them.  Select "Create Bibliography from Item" to produce a bibliography in the format and style of your choice.


JD Kotula
38 Cummington Mall
Boston, MA 02215