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Information on an open access citation management system


If you are trying to keep track of all the books, articles and other sources for your projects, a citation management program can help. Zotero is a free program to help you collect, organize, cite, and share research. This guide will help you understand Zotero's function and get the program set up for use on your device.


About Zotero

  • Automatically extract citation information from websites, library catalogs, databases, and more.
  • Save PDF files, images, screenshots, and other file types.
  • Automatically create formatted bibliographies in many different styles.
  • Works with word processing programs, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and OpenOffice.
  • Sync the citations and files you save online across multiple devices.
  • Create group libraries to share.
  • As an open-source program, Zotero is free (for the first 300 MB of online storage).

Special Tips

  • If you use Zotero for​ creating​ an annotated bibliography use these tips:
  • If the style you need to use is not listed as an option in Zotero, explore the Zotero Citation Repository, linked below​ to find additional citation styles that are in addition to the default styles loaded into Zotero.

Learning Outcomes: Setting Up Zotero

The following video outlines step-by-step directions for the initial set-up of Zotero:

  1. Create an account
  2. Download the program
  3. Add the web browser extension
  4. Sync the program to your account
  5. Set preferences including citation style, link resolver
  6. Integrate with your word processing software 

The video length is 3:46.

The tutorial above mentions the OpenURL Revolver (found under "Advanced" in the Preferences menu). Copy the URL below to paste as described about 03:00.

Adding Items to Zotero

This video demonstrates how to add a source (like a journal article) into your Zotero account including

  • creating/setting up collections/file folders
  • Adding a book from the catalog
  • Adding articles from databases like CINAHL or Academic Search Complete
  • Adding articles from PubMed
  • Adding articles/books from Google Scholar
  • Adding webpages
  • Manually entering PDFs into Zotero
  • removing duplicates 

The video length is 7:44 

NOTE: This video was recorded from a previous version of the library's website. When you follow these steps the pages may look different but the steps are the same.

Getting Information Out of Zotero

This video demonstrates how to export sources in the citation format you want and add them into your paper/project including

  • Creating a bibliography from a collection
  • How to fix mistakes in the citation 
  • How to add notes and tags to a record 
  • Generate a report that includes notes and tags
  • How to use the MS Word add-on to integrate sources in Zotero into citations and references/works cited

Remember as with all citation generators, check each citation generated for errors using the corresponding style manual. Machines make mistakes.

The length of this video is 8:04.

NOTE: This video was recorded from a previous version of the library's website. When you follow these steps the pages may look different but the steps are the same.


Use these handouts to help you use Zotero.

Ways to get help

If you need help using library resources or need assistance finding information, contact the library!

Call (309) 677-3502*

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Check our Frequently Asked Questions.


*During research help hours

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