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Zotero Citation Software: Tips
and Tricks

guide to using the free Zotero citation and research management program

Page Contents

Indexing PDFs

It's easy to add PDFs to your Zotero library and automatically import their citation info.

First, drag your PDF files into the Zotero pane.

Right-click the PDFs and choose "Retrieve Metadata for PDFs."  Zotero will retrieve their citation data sources like Google Scholar and turn them into citeable items with PDF attachments.

If Zotero can't find a match, don't worry -- you can still save the citation from another catalog or article database, then drag the PDF onto the citation to make it an attachment.

Adding items by ISBN

image of Zotero Add by Identifier iconHave the book in front of you and want to add it to your Zotero library without having to search for a citation?

If you have a book's ISBN, an online article's DOI or PMID number, just click the magic wand button: "Add item by identifier." Type in the book or article's number, and Zotero will automatically download its information and save it to your library.

Zotero + EndNote

It's easy to use EndNote and Zotero together and take advantage of the best features of each, or to share Zotero libraries with colleagues using EndNote or vice versa. Both programs can read and write a standard citation file format called RIS, which means references can be converted back and forth with a few clicks.

PDFs and other attachments do not export between programs, however; only citation information.

Zotero to EndNote

To save your Zotero library for importing into EndNote, click the Zotero button that looks like a gear and choose "Export Library." Choose RIS as the file type and pick a filename.

In EndNote, click "File" and then "Import." Click the "Choose File" button and select the file you just exported from Zotero. Set Import Option to "Reference Manager (RIS)" and click Import.

image of Zotero menu to use when importing to another citation manager like EndNoteEndNote to Zotero

To export your EndNote library for use in Zotero, click "File" and then "Export." Set the output style to "RefMan (RIS) Export" and save it as a text file.

In Zotero, click the button that looks like a gear and choose "Import." Just double-click the file you exported from EndNote. The new references will be added to a collection named "Imported" followed by the date and time.

Zotero on mobile devices

You can use Zotero on various mobile devices and mobile browsers by installing a "Bookmarklet," a special link that saves items directly to your Zotero account on the web.

You must have a Zotero account, and your mobile device must be online, to use Zotero. Read the bookmarktlet directions for your mobile device.  

When you're on a page with a citation, select the Save to Zotero bookmark. The iPad browser will save the citation directly to your Zotero library online.

Add the bookmark

image of the bookmarklet directions page on Zotero.org

Edit the bookmark

Click to save

Adding Additional Formats

Zotero comes with several formats installed (ex: APA, MLA, IEEE). However, you may want to install additional formats for a project.  You can easily install other formats via Zotero's Style Repository which includes over 8000 citation styles.