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Zotero Tutorial

Step by step instructions for the use of Zotero citation management software.


It is important that you examine the bibliographic info produced with Zotero for accuracy, double check:

  • Names
  • Dates
  • Capitalization
  • Punctuation

Make any needed adjustments prior to using these items to create in-text citations/footnotes or when building reference lists.

Zotero Lingo

Zotero Standalone
Refers to the downloaded Zotero software on your computer.
Is the fully online version of Zotero (

Individual citations for books, journal articles,

Folder(s) that house your items.

Bibliographic information such as, item type, author, title, source URL, notes, tags, etc.

Export from a Database

EBSCO Databases

Exporting the article citation details from a database is simple. Once you have conducting your search and found an article you need, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the article record page.
  2. On the right of the article record page under the Tools section, click Export.
  3. Select Direct Export in RIS Format.
  4. A Zotero Connector box will open. Click OK
  5. Open Zotero and you will see the article information. You can now make any edits

EBSCO database export to Zotero

ProQuest Databases

  1. Open the article record page. 
  2. On the top right, select All Options.
  3. Under CITATION EXPORT, select RIS (Citavi, Mendeley, etc.)
  4. Adjust the Content dropdown as needed. Click Continue.

Proquest exporting items to Zotero

       5. Open Zotero.
       6. Select File, Import.
       7. Click Next

This will import the article information into Zotero. You can then move it to a different folder and/or make any edits. 

Upload files to Zotero

Adding Citations from Online Resources (Websites)

Adding citations from online resources (databases/websites) is the most efficient way to build your zotero library. Zotero will automatically detect when you are searching in most databases or other online resources and provide an address bar icon to easily add citations to your Zotero library. If an icon does not appear in your address bar for some reason, you can generally use the database's export function to export the citation as an RIS.

  1. Have your Zotero Standalone open.
  2. Search a database or website using the browser with the Zotero connector installed.
  3. From the results list, when you choose the item you want to save, you will see an icon appear in your web browser’s address bar (icons differ depending on type of resource ex: journal article, folder, book, website, etc.).

Zotero Browser Icon Examples: examples of zotero icons that appear in your browsers navigation pane.

  1. Click the browser icon to add a citation or web page information to your Zotero library.
    1. If there is more than one citation on a page, a folder icon will be displayed. Click this icon to view all the citations listed on the results page, in a pop-up box. From here you can select the items you want to save and click Ok.
  2. A notification box will pop up in the bottom right corner to let you know where your items are being saved in “My Library” or another collection you create.

Import PDFs from your computer

PDFs (and other files) can be dragged from your computer folders and dropped into your Zotero library.
  1. Open Zotero Standalone, select a collection (folder) from within your library, if you have not set up any collections yet, click on My Library.
  2. Drag files from your computer and drop them into the center Zotero panel, labeled "Title".
As the file imports, Zotero will attempt to retrieve any available metadata for the item, as demonstrated in the .gif below *Video has no sound.


If the metadata does not import automatically, you can add the information manually:

  1. Right click on the item within the Title section (center column), then select Create parent item from the dropdown.
  2. From the Info tab  (right column), click on the fields and enter the metadata (Author Name, Publication Date, Publisher, etc.)
The following .gif shows the manual addition of a PDF, where the reference info was not imported and is being added manually. *Video has no sound.

Manually Add a Items to Your Zotero Library

  1. In the center column of Zotero Standalone, click the Add New Item icon add new item icon from zotero destop application
  2. Select the Item Type from the dropdown menu
  3. From the right column, click on the section titles to add the information about the item.

zotero screen, showing steps 1 - 3, as described above.

Adding Items by ISBN

highlighted magic wand icon from the zotero screen

If you have a book's ISBN, an online article's DOI or PMID number, just click the magic wand icon: "Add item by identifier."

Type in the book or article's number, and Zotero will automatically download its bibliographic information and save it to your library.