Zotero is citation management software that is enhanced by its active community of users and developers. You can easily add citations and full text sources to build your own library. Zotero allows you to easily organize, read, and annotate sources. Its single-click capture works with most all databases, catalogs, and websites, and Zotero is better than other applications at citing government documents. Plugins developed by its users add customization options. You can also collaborate with other researchers who use Zotero and create shared collections.
Zotero is a free program until you have used 300 MB of cloud storage (approximately 100 PDFs). Different pricing plans for your storage needs are available once the storage has been exceeded. Plans range from $20/year for 2 GB storage up to $120/year for unlimited storage. More information about paying for additional storage can be found on Zotero's storage plans page.
There are several ways you can install Zotero.
Options for adding items to your library:
Learn more from Zotero's documentation on adding items to Zotero.
You can use Zotero to organize your references with "Collections" and "Tags."
More information is available from Zotero's documentation on collections and tags.
The image below shows an example library organized using Zotero's collections.
The image below shows you an example of citations viewed via selected tags.
Zotero allows you to highlight and annotate PDFs, to pull metadata and citation information from databases and PDFs, to add your own notes and tags to research articles, and to sort and export your research. For more information about Zotero’s PDF features, visit their support page. Additional PDF features can be added to Zotero through 3rd party plugins, including the ability to extract only text that you annotated for future reading.
Word processor plugins are available for Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, and NeoOffice. Google Docs is supported via browser extensions in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. These allow you to easily insert in-text citations while automatically updating your bibliography. Any updates you make in Zotero to your citations or citation style will automatically be applied to any citations in your paper.
Other word processors will work with your Zotero citations, with some limitations. Use Zotero to create a static citation. You can paste the copied citation into Google Docs or other word processors. Citations copied in this manner are static (and not dynamic), meaning that any changes made to the citation in Zotero will not be reflected to the citation copied in your document.
More information about these plugins, including guides on installing and using them, are available on the Zotero website.
Zotero has an active community that creates 3rd party plugins. These include keyboard shortcut features, Google Scholar functionality, and other tools. The plugins listed below add features for general ease of use and accessibility.
For more information about plugins for Zotero, visit their support page about plugins.
Zotero your items locally on your computer by default, but you'll also want to use the sync function to use Zotero from other computers, such as working in a computer lab. Learn more about how to sync your library from Zotero's documentation.
Zotero users may share citations using "groups" which can be explored on the Zotero website.