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Zotero: Getting Started

What is Zotero?


Zotero logo


Zotero is a free open source reference management tool that makes saving and citing resources, including websites, YouTube videos, news articles, journal articles and scholarly database results, a breeze. Because of Zotero's open source nature and large user communities, new features are often developed and added. Some of Zotero's strengths include its ability to capture a multitude of resource types with the click of a button, and its group library function, with no limit on group membership.  This guide will help you get up and running on Zotero.

A few good things to know about Zotero:

Setting up Zotero

The following three steps will get you ready to start using Zotero for reference management. 

  1. Download the latest version of the application. You should also download the connectors for the browsers you use.

  2. Set up an online Zotero account by clicking Register in the upper right-hand corner of the Zotero download page.

  3. Connect your downloaded Zotero desktop application to your cloud account. When you first open your Zotero application, click on the Set Up Syncing link in the middle pane. This will open the Syncing Preferences, where you can enter the username and password you used to set up your online account in Step 2.

Using Zotero to Cite Sources

One of the biggest benefits of using a reference management tool like Zotero is the ability to cite sources, in virtually any citation style, while you write and create quick formatted bibliographies. When you install Zotero, a set of new tools should automatically be added to your Microsoft Word application to make this possible. These will appear in a new tab when you open a fresh Word document.

Occasionally, this installation will not happen automatically. Visit this Zotero support page to troubleshoot the installation of the Zotero Word integration.
For more information about using the Microsoft Word plug-in, and other word processor integrations, to create in-text citations, footnotes, endnotes and bibliographies, visit the following Zotero support pages. Note that if you're working in LaTeX, Zotero can easily export bibliographies and citations in BibTeX format. You can also explore various other plug-ins and options for working with Zotero and LaTeX.

Setting up Library Lookup

You can set up Zotero to look for a citation in the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries' Catalog.  This can facilitate finding and requesting the full text for items that you find online. Here's how to set up the Library Lookup feature:


1. Select Preferences from the Zotero menu.

Zotero preferences from menu


2. Under the Advanced tab in Preferences, find the Resolver box and enter this URL:

Enter resolver URL in Advanced preferences


3. Use Library Lookup from Zotero to run a search in the CMU Libraries' catalog. Log into the catalog to view options and make interlibrary loan requests.

 Library lookup feature


ZoteroBib is a handy, Zotero-driven tool that allows you to create quick formatted citations and bibliographies in thousands of citations styles, with no need to download and install software. Simply add an item identifier like a DOI, ISBN or URL and generate your citation.

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