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Kresge 25—Successful Transfer to the Research University

Zotero—free citation management system

Zotero helps you create citations and bibliographies/references/works-cited lists with ease, while keeping the sources you've researched in order. Indispensible for writing longer research papers and senior theses.

1. Register: If you don’t already have one, register for a Zotero account.

2. Download: Once you’ve registered, DOWNLOAD Zotero and a Zotero Connector for your browser.

3. Cite While You Write and Create Bibliographies: A plug-in for Word will install automatically. Be sure to restart Word after installing Zotero. The plug-in also works with Google Docs.

Resources for more information:

There are two ways to add citations to Zotero: 1) automatically and 2) manually. Before adding citations by hand, you should try to add them through the automated connection Zotero establishes with your Web browser. 

1. Adding citations automatically: When searching Library Search, Melvyl/WorldCat, or article databases, you will be able to easily download citation information directly into Zotero with one click. 

Search for any topic. For articles, wait until you are on the journal article page to click the save citation button. This will save the full-text PDF along with the citation information to Zotero. 

Whenever you get a list of results from a search, you’ll notice a small icon on the right side of your browser's address bar.

The folder icon indicates that there are multiple selections that you could download into Zotero. If you want to save multiple citations from one search, click on the folder icon and another screen will appear. You can then select which citations you’d like to download.

If you want to only download one citation, click on the book or article listed in the results. On the item page, you’ll notice that you still have an icon in the browser bar, but now that icon is a book or a page. If you click on the icon, the citation information about the book or article will be automatically downloaded into Zotero. Different types of materials will have different icons. Clicking this icon will always be the way to automatically download citation information. You can also save Web pages using the same technique.

NOTE: Zotero will store the downloaded information into the folder you last selected, so be certain that as you download, you have selected YOUR library folder and not the class folder.

The downloaded citation information will include author name, title, publisher, date—all the necessary details for a bibliography—in addition to whatever information is included in the catalogue or database record, including tags and call numbers.

2. Adding citation information manually: Not all online repositories will directly connect to Zotero. But you can still use Zotero to organize the citation information, add notes, tags, and images. To add an item by hand, select the library to which you want to add an item and click on the Add Item button (below). You will have to choose what kind of item you are adding. Book, article, or document are three basic items, but the list is very long—you can add encyclopedia entries, television broadcasts, films, e-mails, etc… Depending on the kind of item you add, Zotero will ask for different kinds of information to create a citation record. 

Once you’ve selected the type of item you want to add, type in all known information. Leave blank information you don’t have (e.g. a newspaper article that was written without an author attributed; you don’t have a page number). Be as thorough as you can be.

After adding these details, the record will work like those downloaded. You can export a citation or include this item in a bibliography.

3. Taking Notes: Once your items are in your library, you can add notes, tags, and other additional details to the record. To do so, select the item in your library. On the right, you’ll notice a box with the citation information. By default, this box is set to “Info” but you can change the screen by clicking on the tabs above. Select “Notes” and add as many notes as you want. You can do the same to add tags.

NOTE: If you are adding tags collaboratively, be sure to set a defined list of terms so that you can use the tags to aggregate resources. Systematize spelling, capitalization, and other possible differences.

Additional Resources: 

1. Create a Group: Any Zotero user can create a Group Library through the online interface. Go to, log in to your account, and click on the "Groups" tag. Click on "Create a New Group," choose a name, and then choose a setting (Public, Open; Public, Closed; or Private).
NOTE: If you are creating a shared library for a class or group project, you will probably want to choose Private so that other Zotero users cannot join.

2. Invite Members/Join a Group: Invite other participants to join your group by clicking on "My Groups" and "Manage Members." You will need the e-mail addresses of people you want to invite to a Private Group. If you leave the group open, other users can find you. (Once members join, the group manager can assign roles—either Admin or Member. Admins will be able to make changes to the Group Library and invite more members. Members will be able to add new items to the Group Library, but cannot erase items or add new members.)

3. Sync: Once you join a group, be sure to sync your preferred Zotero platform so that the group appears in your personal library. You may have to enbable syncing on your version of Zotero (either standalone or in your Web browser).
NOTE: If you’re working with both the standalone and the embedded options, make sure you sync regularly so that you’re always adding to the most recent library.

4. Add to a group library: Once the group library shows up in your preferred platform, click on the group and create a sub-library by clicking on the Add New Folder button. Include your first name and last name in your new library.


Additional resource:


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Evaluate, write, & cite

The following resources can support you with academic writing: