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Zotero Citation Management

Zotero is a free online tool to collect and organize resources, cite works and create bibliographies.

The Background

What is Zotero?

Zotero (zo TAIR oh) is a bibliographic management system. It keeps track of information about books, articles, blog posts, YouTube videos, presentations, and a whole bunch of other things.

Why does that matter?

As you do research you will find all sorts of valuable resources. When you write your papers and essays (and books and articles) you will need to cite those resources reliably. Zotero keeps track of that citation information (title, author, publisher, date, URL) and understands the rules for all sorts of citation formats (Turabian/Chicago, MLA, APA, etc.) so that when you cite a resource you do it correctly every time.

Is there anything Zotero can't do?

One common misconception is that Zotero will store the complete text of eBooks and all articles one finds. Zotero itself compounds this misperception by calling it's collection of bibliographic information a "library." But while Zotero can store the full text of some articles and resources, it does not store the complete text of eBooks.

Why wouldn't I use Zotero?

Lots of reasons, some of them good! Here are a few:

  • You may already have a reliable, efficient, trustworthy system for tracking the kind of information Zotero tracks. If so, do not feel compelled to change that!
  • You may want to learn the intricacies of a particular citation format (say, Turabian). By managing the intricacies for, Zotero might make that endeavor more difficult.
  • You may like wracking your brain to remember the source of a particular quote, searching through reams of index cards or sticky notes to find that bibliographic information, and skipping social events to spend hours formatting and verifying that your citations are correct.

The Basics

In order to use Zotero most effectively you will need:

  1. A Windows, Linux, or Mac PC, or an iOS device.

    Zotero does not work on a Chromebook, Kindle, or Android device.
  2. Zotero and a web browser plugin. Download Zotero and the appropriate plugin before you do anything else!

    There are two download buttons. You'll need to click both of them.
  3. Microsoft Office, LibreOffice, or Google Workspace.

    AMBS students can download Microsoft Office by logging in at AMBS students also have Google Workspace. LibreOffice is open source software that is free for anyone to download.
  4. A modern web browser: Safari, Firefox, Chrome, or Edge.

    (Sorry, Opera, Brave, and Vivaldi users. You can try, but it may or may not work.)