Skip to Main Content

Zotero: A Citation Tool

TriCo Libraries Guide

Different options

There are 5 main ways to add references to your Zotero library:

  1. The browser extension
  2. Identifiers
  3. Manually
  4. Retrieving metadada from PDFs
  5. Importing from other tools (reference managers, Word docs)

Using the browser extension

  • You can save references to your Zotero library with 1 click using the browser extension
  • When Zotero detects a website with a book or article references, a book or article icon will appear at the top of your browser


  • Click on the icon, and Zotero will automatically save the citation to the collection highlighted in your library
  • When a website displays a list of several references, for example search results, a folder icon will appear instead


  • Click on the folder icon and select references to save multiple items at the same time
  • Make sure Zotero is open before adding citations with the browser extension

Using Identifiers

You can add references quickly if you already know their ISBN, Digital Object Identifier (DOI), or PubMed ID

       1.  In the Zotero window click on the Add Item(s) by Identifier button


       2.  Type or paste the identifier and press enter

Adding items manually

You can also manually add items to your Zotero library:

       1. In the zotero window, click on the New Item button


       2.  Select the desired item type from the drop-down menu

       3.  An empty item of this type will then appear in the center column

       4.  You can manually enter the item's bibliographic information in the right column 

Retrieving metadata from PDFs

If you have full text PDF files of journal articles, you can often easily retrieve the citation for the articles with a few simple steps.*

First, drag and drop a PDF (or several) into your Zotero library.

Next, right click on the PDF and choose Retrieve Metdata from PDF:

Within seconds, Zotero will convert your imported PDF into a citation and attach the PDF to that citation.

If this is your first attempt at using this feature, you may be prompted to install the PDF indexing plugin. Simply click through the installation prompt and the indexer will install within seconds.

*While this feature can greatly facilitate importing large existing libraries of PDFs, the imported data, especially where Zotero uses Google Scholar, is of lower quality than importing via Web Translator from most scholarly databases.

Importing from other tools

You can also import items from another reference management software

       1.  Select "Import..." from the file menu

       2.  Browse to the file, select it, and click "Open"

       3.  The items will be imported into your Zotero library in a date-stamped collection

Importing citations from documents (Google Docs, Word, Excel, etc.)

You can use AnyStyle to take references from a Google Doc, Word doc, Google Sheet (etc.) and add them to your Zotero library. It's a great way to add multiple citations to Zotero at once. (Sometimes, the Zotero browser connector is a better option - ask a librarian if you're unsure.)

  1. Go to AnyStyle. Copy and paste your references into the box labelled Parse.
    Make sure each reference starts on a new line. Remove any line breaks in the middle of a reference.
  2. Choose Parse and AnyStyle will split the references into segments (author, title, etc.).
  3. If any segment is labelled incorrectly, select it. Then use the Assign Label button to assign the correct label.
    To select multiple items/segments at once, use Shift and Ctrl/Command.
  4. Once you've corrected your references (if needed), export your file as BibTeX.
    (The BibTeX file will download to your computer.)
  5. In the Zotero app, choose File > Import. Import the .bib file. Your references will be added to your Zotero library.

(Source: Berkley Library Update)

Video Guide