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Using Zotero

The basics of how to use Zotero

Adding References to Your Zotero Library

There are various ways to add references to Zotero.

Manually:: You manually enter bibligraphic information.

By Identifier:

  • Type in the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for books (books published after about 1970 have ISBNs). ISBNs, which uniquely identify a particular edition of a book,can be found in library catalogs, and on the title page of a book
  • Type in the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) for digital documents.DOIs provide stable, persistent links to documents. They can be found on a digital version of an article and often in online databases
  • Type in the PMID (PubMed Identifiers), which are unique identifiers assigned by PubMed to the articles and abstracts in the PubMed database

By Icon: If you have installed either Zotero for Firefox or Zotero Standalone along with a browser extension, an icon (a different icon for each type of source) appears in the browser toolbar. All you have to do is click on it and all information is imported.into your Zotero library.

Add Bibliographic Data Manually

To insert an item manually, open either the standalone or Firefox version of Zotero. Click on the New Icon button (circled below), which opens up a dropdown menu listing source types (book, book section, journal article, newspaper article, etc). A window pane opens on the right with slots for you to enter all relevant bibliographic information. The example shown here is for a book.

New Icon button with drop down list for source type

Add Bibliographic Data by Identifier

Click on the icon circled below. A box will open in which you type in the ISBN, DOI or PMID for the item you want to insert. The item will be added to your Zotero library.

Icon for adding a source using a DOI, ISBN, or PMID

Add Bibliographic Data by Icon

Remember that in order to add items by icon you must have installed either Zotero for Firefox or Zotero Standalone along with a browser extension (Chrome, Safari).

When you find a journal article, a website, a newspaper article, a reference to a book (either on or a library catalog,), an icon (a different one for each format) appears in the right-hand corner. The icon is always to the right of the Z icon, but its appearance changes slightly depending on what type of source you're viewing and saving.

Save icon next to Z icon


The screen below shows a record for a book in Search@CULibraries. To enter the bibliographic data for this book into Zotero, simply click the icon to the right of the Z (the icon that the blue arrow points to in the image below). Then choose "Save to Zotero using Primo". The data will automatically be imported into your Zotero library.

icon on far right for saving to zotero from Primo Search@CULibraries for books



The screen blow shows a record from a database for a journal article. Notice the icon is not the same as for a book entry. Again, just click on it to get all the bibliographic information into Zotero.

Zotero icon top right for saving from article database



The screen below shows yet a different icon for a website. Researchers often find it difficult to know how to cite a website. Zotero can help, but you may need to edit it according to the requirements of your professor. 

arrow pointing to top right icon for saving a website to zotero


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