Reference management software: Zotero

About the exercises

Below are the exercises from the Library's introduction course on Zotero. During the course the librarian will show you the different functions and you will get to try them out.

You can also do the exercises on your own.

Interested in participating in Zotero course? See coming events by clicking About Zotero in the menu to the left.

1 - Install Zotero

Before you start, close/quit your word processor and all MS Office applications.

Go to

  1. Install Zotero 5.0.
  2. Download the Zotero Connector for your web browser (available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari).

2 - Import references

a) Import some references from databases and catalouges

Search for a couple of books and articles in library catalogues and databases and add them to your Zotero library. 

Check the information about the reference. Are all fields correct? Make changes where needed. 

b) Add references manually
Go to New Item and select the publication type you want to add. Continue by adding information on author, title etc.

You can add this book manually, or a book you have at home. 

Check the information about the reference. Are all fields correct? Make changes where needed. 

c) Add references by reference numbers
Add some references by ISBN, DOI or PubMed ID.

Here are some examples you can use:

Check the information about the reference. Are all fields correct? Make changes where needed. 

d) Add references by importing locally stored PDF's
If you have saved articles as PDF files on your computer, Zotero can sometimes create references from metadata in the files. Drag and drop a PDF to Zotero, or click New Item → Store Copy of File and find the PDF file you want to add. The PDF is saved to Zotero. Right click the file and choose Retrieve Meta Data for PDF. A bibliographic reference will usually be created. If Zotero cannot create the reference, you can add one manually. Right-click on the PDF and choose Create Parent Item.

e) Attaching PDF's to your references

When you have bibliographic references to journal articles in Zotero without attachments, you can right-click them and choose Find Available PDF. Sometimes, Zotero will be able to find and attach the PDF.

If you drag and drop a file to My library or in a folder, a copy of the file will be saved. If you drag and drop the file on an already existing reference, it will be saved to this particular reference. You can also right click on a reference, choose Add Attachment and then select a file.

f) Add references to web pages
Create a reference to a web page by clicking on the document icon in the web browser or by right clicking on the web page and choose Zotero Connector  Save to Zotero. Add any missing information in the reference manually (author, date and so on).

3 - Organize your library

Create a collection/folder and drag and drop some references into it. You can have the same reference in various collections/folders.

Try to delete a reference from a folder. Please note that you get two options:

Remove Item from Collection: you delete the item from the folder, but you keep it in your library.

Move Item to Bin: you delete the item permanently from the Zotero library.

4 - Make a backup and synchronize the library

a) Make a backup of your Zotero Libary

Chek out the instruction in the menu to the left. Note that there is a slight difference between Windows and Mac.

b) Synchronize your Zotero Library

The first step is to create an account on the Zotero website. Then go to Edit → Preferences  Sync

5 - Add references to a document

a) Open a document (Word, Google Docs or LibreOffice).

b) Add a couple of different references. The first time you get to choose references style and language.

c) Add a page number to a citation.

d) If you are using an author-date style (using parentheses)  - exclude the author's name in the citation. 

e) Try to change the reference style.

6 - Create a bibliography

When you have finished adding in-text citations to your document (exercise 5) you can add a reference list.

a) Place the cursor where you want your reference list and click Add/Edit Bibliography.

b) Try to change the style of your in-text citations and bibliography by clicking Document Preferences.

If you have time:

c) Download more styles from the Zotero Style Repository

7 - Collaborate

a) Log in to the Zotero account you made in exercise 4.

b) When logged in, you can search for groups or create your own.

c) You can also create a croup in the Zotero standalone Click on New Library   → New group. Your groups are located under Group Libraries. Choose if it should be a private or public group.


8 - Language settings

In the Advanced panel of Zotero Preferences, you can change the language of the Zotero software.

You are done with the exercises!