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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

Alternatively, you can use ZoteroBib to generate quick bibliography items from URLs, ISBNs, and reference titles.

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 multiple sources are available on the screen, as with a BU Libraries Search results list, the icon will look like a manila folder.


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.

Citing with Zotero

You can integrate Zotero with Microsoft Word using the Zotero plug-in.  The plug-in is installed automatically when you install Zotero, but if needed, can be re-installed from the Preferences menu in Zotero.  Once installed, you can cite any reference in your Zotero library using the Zotero tab on your Word toolbar (Mac users: this may appear as a floating toolbar near your Word window).  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, citation options will appear from your Zotero library.

When you have finished your paper, including all in-text citations or footnotes, you can place your cursor where you would like to position your bibliography, then click Insert Bibliography in the Zotero 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 and right-click them.  Select "Create Bibliography from Item" to produce a bibliography in the format and style of your choice.


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JD Kotula
38 Cummington Mall
Boston, MA 02215