Collecting, organizing, and citing your references

Collecting Citations

Zotero translators provide the ability to save references from most library catalogs (including the U of A's) and databases, and even some regular web pages, with one click.

Check the Zotero web site for a list of compatible sites.

If Zotero detects that you're looking at a book or article in a catalog, database, or a site like Google Books or the New York Times, you'll see a book or page icon appear in the address bar of your browser. For lists of items, a folder icon will appear.

The placement of the Zotero icon will depend on the browser you are using. 

Zotero Icons for capturing a citation by browser;

Just click the icon and Zotero will automatically save the citation or group of citations.

Collecting Citations: Library and Book Catalogs

Add a Single Book

In the library catalog, WorldCat, Google Books, Amazon, or other book catalogs, look for the book icon at the top of your browser bar.

Click the book icon in your browser bar to add a cingle book to your Zotero library.

Add Multiple Records from a List

For lists of multiple items, click the folder icon in the browser bar to add all on the page or to select items from the list. 

Just click the folder icon in the browser bar and select the items you wish to add to your library

Collecting Citations: Articles from Journals and Magazines

Add a Single Article

In library article databases and indexes, look for the article icon at the top of your browser bar.

Click the arrticleicon in your browser bar to add a single articleto your Zotero library.

Add Multiple Records from a List

For lists of multiple items, click the folder icon in the browser bar to add all on the page or to select items from the list. 

Capturing multiple records from a page

Special Cases: QuickSearch

QuickSearch doesn't work directly with Zotero.  But you can still save QuickSearch records to Zotero with these steps:

  1. Add items to your temporary folder by clicking the folder icon next the the citations you wish to save.
  2. When you are ready to export, click the saved items folder on the upper right of the QuickSearch page. 
  3. Choose the option to Export to... Zotero.
  4. QuickSearch will generate an *.ris file. Save this to your computer.
  5. In Zotero, choose File... Import and navigate to the *.ris file you just saved.
  6. Your items will be imported into a new collection.  You can moved them to a different collection by dragging and dropping them.

You can set Zotero to be the default program to handle *.ris files, as well. 

Special Cases: Google Scholar

Google Scholar does not offer a detailed citation view so you must use the folder icon on the results list page and then choose the citations from the list to import into your Zotero library. 

Zotero folder icon in Google Scholar

Collecting Citations: Other Web Sites

Other Web Sites  

Zotero for Firefox and Zotero Standalone with Firefox can add web page metadata from the browser button.  You will have the option ot take a snapshot of the current page. aking a snapshot saves a copy of the page to your computer. It includes the page's text and images, so if the page is removed later, or if you're offline, you'll still be able to view your copy.

Add a web page option in Zotero for Firefox.

This feature has recently been added to the Chrome Zotero connector, as well, but is not yet available for Safari.  

Adding items by ISBN, DOI, or Other Identifier

Search by IdentifierHave the book in front of you and want to add it to your Zotero library without having to search for a citation?

If you have a book's ISBN, an online article's DOI or PMID number, just click the magic wand button: "Add item by identifier." Type in the book or article's number, and Zotero will automatically download its information and save it to your library.

Create Citations from PDFs

It's easy to add PDFs to your Zotero library and automatically import their citation info.

First, enable PDF indexing on the Search tab of Zotero's preferences.  Zotero will download and install a small plugin.

Next, just drag your PDF files into the Zotero pane.

Right-click the PDFs and choose "Retrieve Metadata for PDFs."  Zotero will retrieve their citation data from Google Scholar and turn them into citeable items with PDF attachments.

If Zotero can't find a match on Google Scholar, don't worry -- you can still save the citation from another catalog or article database, then drag the PDF onto the citation to make it an attachment.

Create References Manually

Even if you can't import a citation automatically, you can add references for many different kinds of formats to your Zotero library.

Click on the green plus button on the Zotero toolbar and choose a format type.  Click More... to go beyond books and articles. 

More about creating references manually


Create references manually with the green plus button

Troubleshooting: My Zotero Icons Don't Appear

  1. Make sure that you have installed the proper Zotero connector for your browser (Chrome, Firefox, or Safari). 
  2. Using Firefox?  We've found that sometimes the folder icon won't display unless you alter your security settings to allow cookies from Zotero.  Under Settings > Privacy, uncheck Never Remember History and instead use custom settings.