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UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | Special Collections

Zotero

Zotero is software that helps you create citations and bibliographies. It's free and easy to use.

Collecting citation info

Zotero lets you save citation information from the UMW library catalog, from most of the library databases, and from some popular websites such as Amazon or the New York Times, with just one click. Whenever you view a webpage that contains information about a book or article, Zotero will display an icon at the top of your browser, near the address bar. Just click the icon and Zotero will automatically save the information.

Screenshot showing the Zotero save icon

The icon will look different depending on what type of thing you're viewing. You might see  for a journal article, or  for a book, or  for a newspaper article, or any of a wide variety of other icons.

If you're viewing a page that has lots of different items on it, such as a list of search results, Zotero will display a folder icon. Click the folder icon to get a list of all the items on the page. Then, check off the ones you want to save.

Screenshot showing the Zotero folder icon

What if there's no icon?

After you've used Zotero for a while, you'll get used to seeing the Zotero icons appear in your browser's address bar, such as  or  or . These icons show up whenever Zotero detects an item that it can save. If no icons show up, that means that Zotero failed to detect any savable item on the page.

So, what do you do if Zotero fails to detect the item you want? How can you save the item when there's no icon to click?

The answer is to save the entire page to Zotero. To do this, right-click the page itself, and you'll get a menu option that lets you save the page to Zotero. Zotero will save whatever information it can find. Then, you should edit the Zotero item to correct errors and add any missing information.

Here's what this menu option looks like in Google Chrome:

 Screenshot of right-click menu in Google Chrome

And here's what it looks like in Mozilla Firefox:

Screenshot of right-click menu in Mozilla Firefox

Attaching files

It's easy to attach files (like PDFs) to items in your Zotero library.  Just drag the file into Zotero.  If you drop the file onto a collection, or in between library items, Zotero will copy it into your library as a standalone item.  If you drop the file onto an existing item, Zotero will attach it to that item.  This is the easiest way to attach a copy of an article to its entry in your library.