Choose a Word Processor

Using Zotero with a word processor allows you to make use of Zotero's ability to automatically track and format citations/footnotes/endnotes within your written document according to a chosen citation style. Zotero works with Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, and Google Docs.

  Microsoft Word LibreOffice Google Docs
Pros A stable version for individuals A freely available, stable version for those without access to Microsoft Word Allows for collaboration amongst group members; an alternative for those without access to Microsoft Word
Cons Can be expensive to purchase on own; will not work for group collaborations Will not work for group collaborations Google Docs on Mac is buggy and will not always update citations reliably; Google Docs has a few documented limitations

You can follow Zotero documentation to switch from one word processor to another within the same document.

Create a Citation

  1. In your Word/LibreOffice/Google Docs document, place the cursor where you'd like to add a citation.
  2. Select the Zotero tab. The first time you use Zotero with Google Docs, you will be prompted to give permission to link your Google Docs account with your Zotero library to allow them to communicate with each other. 
  3. In the Zotero tab menu, click on "Add/Edit Citation." If you are on an older Mac, Zotero can appear in multiple places; in a Zotero tab, as a hovering toolbar in the top left corner, or as a drop-down menu item from the scroll icon at the top of the screen.Screenshot of Microsoft Word, showing the selected Zotero tab on the right end of Word's row of tabs (usually next to the Help tab), as well as the Add/Edit Citation button on the far left of the Zotero menu.
  4. The first time you do this in a document, you will be asked to choose a citation style. Select a style from the list and click OK.
  5. A small window or bar should appear. Search for or select the item you'd like to cite, enter page numbers if relevant, and click OK. 
  6. The citation/footnote/endnote should appear in your document, correctly formatted.

Pro Tips:

  • For suggestions of how to cite difficult or unusual documents, see HKS's Ask a Librarian Zotero answers
  • If you want to cite multiple sources together, click on the Multiple Sources button to select multiple items together. 
  • To add text to the beginning or end of your citation, use the Prefix and Suffix boxes. 

Video on Using Zotero with Microsoft Word

Select a Citation Style

The first time you insert a citation in a document you will be required to choose a citation style.

You can change the citation style at anytime via the Document Preferences button in the Zotero menu in Word. 

Selection of Chicago full note. with ibid


If you do not see the style you want listed, you can add more citation styles to your library.

Edit Citations

To make changes to your citation, place your cursor within the citation (1) and then click the Zotero Edit Citation button (2).

Selecting a citation to edit to add page numbers

In the pop-up window, make the desired changes (e.g., adding page numbers) and click OK. 

Adding page numbers

Your citation will automatically refresh and display the edits you made. 

Updated citation

Correct Errors

All metadata errors in a citation should be corrected in Zotero, not in Word/LibreOffice/Google Docs.

Only use the Zotero Edit Citation function in the Zotero toolbar if you are making changes like those depicted above.

After you have gone into Zotero and updated the citation, use the Zotero Refesh button in Word to update your document.

Location of Refresh for corrections made in Zotero

Create Bibliographies

This section will cover several different ways to create bibliographies with Zotero:

  • Bibliography from Citations: You can create a bibliography from all the works you have cited in your paper, using Word/LibreOffice/Google Docs. This may be particularly useful for citation styles that use a shortened note or author/date form. 
  • Annotated Bibliography: You can create annotations of works and automatically append the annotations to your bibliography entries.
  • Standalone Bibliography: You can create a bibliography directly from works in your Zotero library without using Word/LibreOffice/Google Docs.

Create Bibliography from Citations 

After adding citations to your Word/LibreOffice/Google Docs document, click Add/Edit Bibliography.

Location of Add/Edit Bibliography on Zotero tab

Zotero will insert a fully-formatted and alphabetized bibliography of all references cited in your document, using the citation style you had previously chosen: 

Zotero generated bibliography

Note that this bibliography will only contain articles, books, etc. that you have cited in your document. If you would like to add items to your bibliography that you have not cited in the document, place the cursor into the bibliography and click Add/Edit Bibliography again.

You will now see a pop-up window similar to the one you see when adding citations. The area on the right (1) contains all items already included in your bibliography; the area in the middle (2) shows all items in the Zotero collection selected in the area on the left (3). From the middle area, select the item(s) you would like to add to your bibliography, then click on the green right arrow between the middle and right areas. 

Adding items to a bibliography that were not specifically cited in the paper

Click OK. The additional item(s) should now show in your bibliography: 

Example of item added to bibliography

Annotated Bibliographies

You can use Zotero to create an Annotated APA or Chicago Bibliography.Adding annotation information to Extra field under Info in Zotero

  1. Download a new style from the Zotero Style Repository.
    1. APA: Download the style "American Psychological Association 6th edition (annotated bibliography with abstract)."
    2. Chicago: Download the style "Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition (note, annotated bibliography)."
  2. Open your Zotero Library and select the item that you want to annotate.
  3. In the "Info" tab on the right-hand pane, write the annotation in the "Extra" field.
  4. Repeat this step for each item that you want to include in the annotated bibliography.
  5. Open your word processing document and follow the standard process for inserting a citation into your document.
  6. When prompted to choose your citation style, select the Annotated Chicago or APA style that you just downloaded.

Standalone Bibliographies 

You can quickly create standalone bibliographies with Zotero in three different ways.

Note that bibliographies created with any of these three methods are static. In other words, changes you make to a citation in Zotero will not be reflected in these bibliographies; they will be simple Word/LibreOffice/Google Doc documents. 

Creating a bibliography from a Zotero Collection 

In Zotero, select the collection from which you would like to create a bibliography. Right-click on it and select Create Bibliography from Collection... 
menu showing Create Bibliography from Collection

In the pop-up window that opens, select the Citation Style you would like to use (1), set the Output Mode to Bibliography (2), and select your preferred Output Method (3).
Create Citation/Bibliography dialog box
If saving as HTML or RTF, you can open this file in your chosen HTML editor or word processor to edit it further; if copying to the clipboard, you can simply paste the bibliography into a Word (or similar) document. 

Creating a bibliography from select items in your Zotero library 
  1. In Zotero, select the items you would like to include in your bibliography (holding down the CTRL [Windows] or Command [Mac] keys while clicking on items with your mouse). (If you would like to select items from different collections, select them from the My Library view.) 
  2. Right-click (control-click on a Mac) on any of the selected items; then select Create Bibliography from Items

Menu showing Create Bibliography from Items

Proceed as described under Creating a Bibliography from a Zotero Collection

Creating a bibliography of select items with drag-and-drop
  1. In Zotero, select the items you would like to include in your bibliography (holding down the CTRL [Windows] or Command [Mac] keys while clicking on items with your mouse). If you would like to select items from different collections, select them from the My Library view.
  2. Drag and drop the selected items into a Word document. The items will be formatted into a bibliography according to the citation style you have selected under the Export section of Zotero Preferences.