Create Collections

Before you start collecting citations, take a minute to consider how you are going to organize your Zotero library. 

Why would I do this? 

Organizing your Zotero library will make it easier for you to quickly locate and use your research material. The most basic way to organize your Zotero library is by creating collections. 

How to create a collection

Create a new collection by clicking the folder icon above the library pane. 

Create a subcollection by right-clicking on an existing collection and selecting New Subcollection.

Location of icon for creating a collection.


When you add items, you will have the option of choosing which collection you want them added to. Items added to collections are also automatically added to My Library.

 Pop up of saving to collection from browser

See also Add Tags or Attach Notes

Add Tags

Tags are keywords you can assign to items that allow you to characterize items and group them together outside of collections.

Tags can be imported from databases along with citation information or they can be added manually.

All tags are searchable through the Zotero search box.

Disable Automatic Tagging

It is highly recommended that you disable automatic tagging. In General Preferences, uncheck the box next to "Automatically tag items with keywords and subject headings." After you disable automatic tagging, your library will only contain tags that you add manually. 

Manually Add Tags

To tag items yourself, select an item in Zotero and then select the 'Tags' tab in the column on the right.

Click on 'Add.' Enter the word or phrase you want to use and press Enter.

Tags can be renamed by clicking on them and deleted by using the 'minus' button.

Your tags will now appear in Zotero's bottom left window pane.


Tags in bottom left window pane


Adding Multiple Items to a Tag

You can add items in bulk to an already existing tag by selecting all of the items within a collection that you want to assign that tag and then dragging them onto the tag in the Tag Pane.        

Bulk adding of tags


Color-coded tags

You can assign colors to your tags. Zotero has 9 built-in colors, and up to 6 tags in your library can be assigned a color. 

Right click on the tag you want to assign a color. 

Choose "Assign color" from the popup menu. 

Select the color you want and click "set color."

Image for directions         

Colored tags appear next to the item title. 

Image showing colored tags

Add Notes Manually 

To add notes to items in your Zotero library, click on the notes tab in the right pane.

Location of Notes tab

When you click on the notes tab, you can then click "add" to create notes. You can create many notes for a single item. 

Image for directions


Create Notes while Browsing the Web

With Zotero, you can also create notes directly from webpages you visit.

  1. Highlight the text you want to copy into a note. 
  2. Right-click (ctrl-click in OS X) and find the Zotero option in the context menu. (In Firefox, it is labeled "Zotero Connector"; in Chrome, it is labeled "Save to Zotero.")
  3. Follow the menu to the option to “Create Zotero Item and Note from Selection."

In Firefox, this will take two steps through the menu:  
Selecting text to create notes in Firefox

In Chrome, this will take only one further step:  
Selecting text to create notes in Chrome


You will now have a new item in your Zotero library, with a note containing the selected text: 

Note in Zotero


Extract Notes from PDF Highlights and Annotations 

Zotero also allows you to extract highlights and annotations saved in a PDF as Zotero notes, which makes them fully searchable and easier to organize. For detailed instructions on how this works, please check the section on Working with PDFs on this guide. 




Add Citations from HOLLIS

Multiple Sources

When viewing a search results screen in HOLLIS, Zotero will display this folder icon to the right of the address bar.

Click the folder icon, and a window will open, allowing you to select the HOLLIS records you would like to add to your Zotero library. When you are done selecting, click OK. These HOLLIS records should now be added to your Zotero library. 

Zotero Item Selector box

Note: Bulk adding to Zotero from HOLLIS is only recommended for searches in the Library Catalog. Bulk adding from Everything may result in incomplete metadata for journal articles as well as PDFs not being automatically downloaded for journal articles. For correct metadata and PDFs, you should go directly to the source of the full text and add to Zotero from there—as described in the section on adding journal article citations to Zotero.

Single Sources

When viewing an individual book record in HOLLIS, Zotero displays a small blue book icon near the address bar.

Click on that icon to save the book to Zotero: 

Saving to Zotero dialog box

Journal Articles 

You can save an article when viewing its record or abstract page. When on a page for an individual article Zotero will display an icon of a piece of paper Image of paper icon . Zotero will automatically download the full-text PDF if it is available.

Just as with HOLLIS, when viewing a search results screen in a database Zotero will display this folder icon Image of folder icon to the right of the address bar.

Click the icon, and a small window will open.

Select which items you'd like to save, and click OK.

Zotero Item Selector box


Web Pages

Zotero can recognize descriptive information or metadata from many websites.

To save a website to Zotero just click on the website icon to the right of the address bar.

The metadata and a snapshot of the page will be saved to Zotero.

Location of website snapshot in Zotero


Automatically Retrieve Metadata

Saving PDFs that you already on have on your computer to Zotero is easy: by dragging and dropping them into a collection. Zotero will automatically attempt to retrieve metadata for the item and add it for you. 

  1. Drag-and-drop a PDF into a collection:
  2. Zotero will automatically attempt to retrieve metadata for the item and add it for you:

    This metadata retrieval usually works really well when the PDF contains a unique identifier, e.g., a DOI. However, it may only work partially for items such as working papers, preprints, and manuscripts; in that case, you will need to add missing metadata manually.

You can also add PDFs by clicking on the Adobe icon when viewing PDFs in your browser.

Image for directions.


Manually Add Metadata

If retrieving metadata does not work, you will only have the PDF itself in your library, without the necessary metadata to generate a proper citation. You will therefore need to manually add this information to the item: 

  1. Right click and choose Create Parent Item

  2. Now, manually fill in the metadata for the item. 
    First, change the item type to the appropriate type: 

    Then add the remaining citation information: 

Check Citations for Accuracy 

Although most of the citation information that Zotero captures will be correct, it is always a good idea to check every item's author, title, date, etc., and then to correct and/or add data. 

Correcting Information

All fields can be edited by clicking in the field.

  • For example, if you need to fix a typo in a record imported from HOLLIS, click in the field and edit as needed: 
    Editing publisher
  • If you need to add or remove authors, editors, translators, etc., click on the plus or minus button and (when adding) select the appropriate role of the person from the drop-down menu, then enter their name: 
    Editing author and options for types of authors
  • You can also change the item type (for example, change a record imported as a web page to a magazine article) by selecting the new item type from the drop-down menu: 
    Changing item type
    Note that in some cases, the fields available in the record—which are determined by item type—may also change, and you may lose data.  


APA Style Title Case

Note that Zotero's output for APA style does not change title casing to sentence style. To change titles that are not in sentence case for APA or other styles with that requirement, right-click on the title > Transform text > Sentence case.

 Transforming text to sentence case



Insert a Citation 

Zotero works with both Microsoft Word and Google Docs. The functionality in Google Docs is the same as for Word (below), with the exception of a simpler menu.

In your Word document, place the cursor where you'd like to add a citation. Select the Zotero tab. 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.

Add Page Numbers & More

Use the page drop-down menu to add page, figure, paragraph numbers and more.

To add text to the beginning or end of your citation use the Prefix and Suffix boxes.

If you want to cite multiple sources together click on the Multiple Sources button to select multiple items together.

Where to enter page numbers and text to footnotes and how to add multiple sources in one citation

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.

Selection of Chicago full note


If you do not see the style you want listed, you will need to click on Cancel and go into Zotero's Preferences.

Under Cite select Styles. Click on Get Additional Styles

Adding more citation styles to Zotero


Find the style you want and click on the title. Click on Install.

Searching for citation styles from the Zotero Style Repository

Edit Citation 

To add page numbers or other information 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.

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 Bibliography from Citations 

After adding citations to your 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.

Download a new style from the Zotero Style Repository.

APA: Download the style "American Psychological Association 6th edition (annotated bibliography with abstract)."

Chicago: Download the style "Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition (note, annotated bibliography)."

Open your Zotero Library and select the item that you want to annotate.

In the "Info" tab on the right-hand pane, write the annotation in the "Extra" field.

Repeat this step for each item that you want to include in the annotated bibliography.

Adding annotation information to Extra fie;s under Info in Zotero

Open your word processing document and follow the standard process for inserting a citation into your document.

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.

  1. Creating a bibliography from a Zotero Collection.
  2. Creating a bibliography from select items in your Zotero library.
  3. Creating a bibliography of select items with drag-and-drop (known as Quick Copy in Zotero parlance).

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 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... 
Right click 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 

In Zotero, select the items you would like to include in your bibliography (holding down the CTRL [Windows] or CMD [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.) 
Right-click on any of the selected items; then select Create Bibliography from Items
Menu for right click showing Create Bibliography from Items

Proceed as described under Creating a Bibliography from a Zotero Collection



Create a Group Library 

There are two ways to create a group library: 

Option 1:   In Zotero, click the New Library icon. Select New Group. You will then be taken to the Zotero website to log into your account.

Creating a New Group drop down menu

Option 2:   Go directly to the Zotero website and login to your account. Click on Create a New Group.

Create a New Group tab on Zotero website

Choose a unique name for your group and make sure to choose the appropriate level of privacy: 

  • Private Membership: Only you and those you choose to invite to your group to be able to view the group's research. 

  • Public, Closed Membership or Public, Open Membership: These options allow you to share your research with everyone, but control who can add to your research. (Note that shared file storage is not available to public, open groups.) 

Zotero will also ask you define the reading and editing privileges group members should have regarding your Group Library. 

View Group Libraries

Your group libraries should automatically sync to your Zotero account and appear below your Zotero Library: 

Location group libraries in Zotero program

If you do not see the group library you just created, try manually syncing your Zotero application and your online Zotero account by clicking on the green curving sync arrow  in the top right corner.

Items can be copied and moved between private and group libraries.

Anything added by any members of the Group Library, including tags and notes, will appear for all members. 

Invite Members

Click Members Settings and then Send More Invitations. You can invite collaborators to your group either by their Zotero user name or by the e-mail address associated with their account. 

Help those who don't already use Zotero by including a link to this guide ( in the optional personal message.

Your collaborators will receive an e-mail inviting them to your group.

Storage Limits

An important consideration: Any PDFs stored within a Group Library will count against the storage limit of the owner of that Group Library. While you have unlimited storage if your Zotero account is linked to your Harvard e-mail, you should bear in mind that this unlimited storage will default to Zotero's free 300MB storage plan once you leave Harvard.