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Writing a Literature Review

Step-by-step Zotero tutorial

Click the following link for a guided step-by-step tutorial to download Zotero, set up an account, and learn to use the basic features of this free citation management software: https://spalding.libwizard.com/f/zotero

Getting Started

1. Download the Zotero desktop app

First download Zotero 5.0 for Windows or Mac. This will download the standalone desktop version of the software that can be accessed from your personal computer. 

2. Create a free Zotero online account

Creating an online account will allow you to sync and access your web-based Zotero library from any deviceLog in to your account to access your synced library. 

3. Download the Zotero web-browser extension

Zotero Connectors automatically sense content as you browse the web and allow you to save it to Zotero with a single click. Zotero is compatible with Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera. Chrome is the preferred browser, but you can select "Zotero Connectors for other browsers" to view more. 

Syncing Your Online Account and Desktop App

Automatically sync your desktop app and online account to access all citations from both locations. In the Zotero desktop app, select Edit > Preferences > Sync. Enter your existing Zotero username and password, or "Create Account." 

Zotero Standalone system preferences for syncing an online account with the standalone library.

Organizing Your Library

In Zotero, you can organize your citations by creating "collections," or folders. Right click on "My Library" in the left hand corner, and select "New Collection" to create a collection. To add citations to your collection, click and drag the record into the collection. You can also add sub-collections to a collection by right-clicking on a collection and selecting "New Sub-Collection."

 

Add a Citation Manually 

To add a citation manually, select File > New Item and select for type of source. A new record will appear in your library and a blank details window will appear on the right panel. The fields will correlate with the type of source selected. Select the field to input information. Or select the "New Item" icon at the top of the window (a small green plus-sign).

Example of adding a new Zotero item manually by selecting "File" > "New Item" > and the item type.

Exporting Citations

Using Browser Connectors

Once you have added a Zotero Connector to you browser, you should see the "Z" plug in at the top right of your window. 

Example of Zotero "Z" Chrome extension.

When you are searching on the web or in a library database, the icon will change according to the source type detected. Here is an example of the extension icon for an academic journal article in EBSCO. 

Example of Zotero article icon in Chrome browser.

Click on the plug-in icon, and the record will automatically save to your Zotero library. 

 

Exporting Citations from a library database (without a browser connector)

If you do not have a Zotero Connector for your browser, you can often export citations from a library database. Here is an example of the export feature in EBSCO. From a detailed item record, select Export under the Tools bar on the right side of the page. Then, select the Direct Export in RIS Format, which is the file type used for Zotero bibliographic citations. 

The downloaded RIS file may automatically open with Zotero and save to your library. Otherwise, you can manually go to File > Import and select the RIS file from your downloads folder. 

Generating and Viewing Citations

1. Zotero Desktop App

In the Zotero desktop app, you cannot view a generated citation, but you can copy and paste the citation into a Word or text document in several ways.

a. Select and drag an item record into a Word document or Google doc.

b. Right click an item record, select "Create Bibliography from Item..." Select the citation style > "Output Mode: Bibliography" > "Output Method: Copy to Clipboard," and paste into your Word or Google document.  

c. You can also copy and paste an in-text citation by selecting "Create Bibliography from Item..." and choosing "Output Mode: Citations." 

 

2. Zotero Online (web-based library at zotero.org)

To generate a citation from your Zotero Online account, select the item you want to cite. In the right hand corner, there is a cite button: 

Zotero cite button

Select the citation style and the citation will generate in the box below. Copy and paste to add to your bibliography or text document. 

Connecting with Word and Generating Citations

Microsoft Word should automatically recognize if you've downloaded Zotero, and the add-in should appear in the tool bar at the top.

If the Zotero Word add-in does not appear automatically, select "Edit" > "Preferences" > "Cite" > "Word Processors" and select "Install Microsoft Word Add-in."

Add the Zotero plug in for Word by selecting "Edit," "Preferences," "Cite," "Word Processors," and select "Install Microsoft Word Add-in"

Open Microsoft Word to access the Zotero Add-in. A Zotero tab will appear on the top tool bar. 

Example of Zotero Add-in in tool bar of Microsoft Word.

Use "Add/Edit Citation" to input an in-text citation from your Zotero library as you write your paper. First, select your citation style. A Zotero search bar will appear. Then, search for a citation by author or title to add the in-text citation. 

Use "Add/Edit Bibliography" to automatically generate a bibliography from your in-text citations. Use the same feature to edit your bibliography. A Zotero window will appear with one column of your library and another column with current citations in your document. Use the migration arrows to add or remove citations to your bibliography. 

Edit Zotero bibliography using arrow icons in the Zotero window to add or remove citations from your document bibliography.

Connecting with Google docs and generating citations

If you’re using Google Chrome and have already installed the plug-in for Google Chrome, a Zotero icon will appear in your Google docs toolbar (letter Z next to formatting options).


 

Either click on the Zotero icon, or navigate from the tool bar menu to Zotero > Add/edit citation. A Zotero search bar will appear. Then, search for a citation by author or title to add the in-text citation. 

Use the same feature to add to or edit your bibliography. In this case, select Zotero > Add/edit bibliography

Tips:

  • Make sure to have your Zotero desktop app open and running. 
  • Double-check that you’ve already set your Zotero citation style to the style of your choice (Edit > Preferences > Cite)
  • Double-check your citations for errors before importing them. Note that Zotero sometimes forgets to convert to “sentence case” in APA, and you can edit and save the title of an item before importing it. 

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