Zotero is a free citation management tool that helps users store the sources that they find in the course of their research. It also offers the ability to insert citations and format bibliographies instantly in a word processor like Microsoft Word.
Each tool has advantages and disadvantages. Both of them allow you to organize citations into folders, generate bibliographies in all major citation styles, cite sources from within a word processing program, and share your sources with collaborators. But here are some key differences:
|Web-based, so you can access your source library from any computer||Installed on your computer, so your sources are only readily available there|
|Can add citations to EndNote by using Export tools in library databases||Can add citations to Zotero by clicking on the Zotero browser add-on|
|Must download PDFs and then attach them to EndNote citations||Available PDFs are automatically attached when you add the citation to Zotero|
|Cannot automatically add citations to free Web-based sources||Can automatically add citations to free Web-based sources|
You can use Zotero to automatically generate bibliographies of selected sources in the citation style of your choosing.
You may want to create a free online Zotero account, which enables you to sync your Zotero library to a cloud-based version that you can access from anywhere. This also serves as a backup, in case your hard drive fails.
To create an account, visit the User Registration page on the Zotero website and follow the instructions.
To "sync" your online account with the Zotero library on your computer, do the following:
If you create an online Zotero account, you can create either public or private Groups with whom you can build a shared online Zotero library. These Groups can be opened to your research collaborators or students.
To create a Group:
You and other group members can now save citations to the shared group library.
To use Zotero, visit the Download Zotero webpage and install these two items:
1) The Zotero program (which automatically includes Zotero plus the Microsoft Word add-on)
2) The Zotero connector for your preferred browser. Connectors are currently available for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. A Safari connector will be available soon.
Follow the on-screen instructions. You may need to close Microsoft Word so that Zotero can install the Word add-on.
By default, the connector will try to add "proxy info" to your URLs, which may trigger warnings in a yellow bar whenever you load webpages. To prevent this, right-click on the Zotero Connector icon in your Internet browser, choose Preferences, and uncheck the "Enable Proxy Redirection" option.
You can manually add references to Zotero by choosing "New Item" in the File menu, selecting the desired type of source (book, magazine article, etc.), and filling in the information necessary to create a complete citation in your preferred style. This method will be needed for unusual sources like primary sources, interviews, and documents that are unavailable on the Web.
But for sources in library catalogs/databases or on the Web, the best method is to use the Zotero Connector that you installed in your preferred Internet browser.
When in a library catalog or database record for a particular item (for example, a journal article in Academic Search Premier), or on a free website, look for the Zotero icon in your browser's top toolbar. It may look like a book or document. Click it, and the item's citation information (along with full-text if available) will be added to your Zotero library.
Zotero works well for most research databases, including the following highly-used resources:
It does NOT work well for the library's two databases of encyclopedia articles, Credo Reference and Gale Reference, so you may need to add those encyclopedia articles manually.
You may choose to organize your citations into one or more collections. Collections can keep your citations organized according to topic, material type, pro/con, empirical/theoretical, assignment, or some other dimension. These collections appear in the left window in Zotero, and work similarly to file directories/trees.
You can create sub-collections within collections if you wish. Note that you can file a particular citation in more than one collection, and all citations will remain accessible by clicking on My Library.
When you install Zotero, an add-in is automatically inserted into your copy of Microsoft Word that creates a new Zotero menu. As you type your paper, you can insert in-text references and footnotes that will draw from the citation info in your Zotero library. You can then insert a bibliography of all the sources you've cited, in the style of your choosing.
First, open the Zotero menu in Word, click on Document Preferences, and choose the desired citation style.
For styles that involve in-text citations (such as MLA and APA), do the following:
For styles that involve footnotes (such as Chicago and Turabian), do the following: