Collecting, organizing, and citing your references

Create and Manage Collections

By default, Zotero stores new citations in "My Library."  You can create multiple folders, or "collections" to organize your research by topic, thesis chapter, or assignment.

A reference can be in more than one collection at a time. In other words, a book on the Civil War could be filed in your "Civil War" collection, your "Arkansas History" collection and your "19th Century America" collection without having to make three copies of the reference.

Click the Zotero button at the bottom of your browser to open your library. At the top left is a folder button with a green plus sign. Click this to create a new "collection."

Drag and drop citations to place them into collections.


Adding a new folder to your Zotero library

Attach Files

It's easy to attach files (like PDFs) to items in your Zotero library. There are several ways to add files:

  • PDFs are automatically saved as you save citations in many cases.  Zotero checks the UnPaywall service for Open Access articles.
  • Have a PDF in hand?  Drag the file into your Zotero pane.
    Zotero will attempt to lookup the article information. 
    Dropping a file onto a collection, or in between library items, will copy it into your library as a standalone item. Dropping it onto an existing item will attach it to that item. This is the easiest way to attach a copy of an article to its entry in your library.

Supported file types include PDFs, Word documents, image files, and more.

Adding PDF files to Zotero citations

Add Notes

The true power of Zotero is in its note-taking functions. Zotero allows you to go beyond managing citations to developing a fully-searchable database of your research notes.

Notes can be standalone or be attached to a citation.

To add standalone notes, click on the Add Note icon in the Zotero toolbar and choose "Add Standalone Note."

To attach a note to a citation,highlight the item you wish to add a note to and

  • either click on the Add Note icon in the Zotero toolbar and choose "Add Child Note" or 
  • click on the Notes tab on the right details pane and click "Add Note."

Adding notes in Zotero

Zotero Groups


Zotero's Groups feature allows you to share references with other Zotero users online. It's a great way to work on collaborative research projects.

Read more about Zotero Groups.