Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Zotero @ the WSU Libraries


See also: Zotero's Tips and Tricks page and its very helpful how-do-I... Knowledge Base page for more info

If you have other questions, ask via the Discussions tab, or contact me (Lorena) directly.


Using Zotero with LaTeX and BibTeX

 I know CSS and Javascript, and I have a great Zotero bibliography on sprockets. How can I make it into a nice browsable online catalog?

See this post from The Digital Orientalist [sic] on Turning a Zotero bibliography into an online, browsable catalog - and read this conversation on the author's Twitter feed. [Lorena's note: I'd just use a public Zotero group, myself]

I use Scrivener to write my papers. How can I use Zotero with it?

See this article from @JSTORDaily: How to Use Zotero and Scrivener for Research-Driven Writing 

The article I am citing is a preprint - how will Zotero know the correct way to cite it?

From a Zotero developer (12/21/2020) "Use any item type (e.g. report or journal article) and put type: article in the "Extra" field. That will be treated by citation styles as a preprint and will turn into a preprint once Zotero adds that category."

How do I  format (i.e. italics or bold)  a word in the title of an article/book/etc?

Use html tags, i.e. this word is <b>bolded</b>. It will show as bolded in your bibliography refererence (using both the drag-and-drop method and the Word add-on).

How can I find out what collection(s) I put something in?

Highlight the item in My Library and hold down the Control key. The collection(s) it is in will be highlighted in yellow. If you have a Mac, hold down the Option key, and if you are using Linux, use the Alt key . If you want to include subcollections in the search, you will first need to click into the Collections portion of the screen, then press your computer's plus sign (+) key - this will automatically open all subcollections, and then you can follow the previous instructions.

What's the best format in which to save item titles?

The best way to save your book/article/website/etc titles is in sentence case, with proper nouns, etc. capitalized. If you right-click on the title field (also short title field) in your Zotero library you can switch from title case to sentence case (but you will have to manually capitaize proper nouns, etc). If you then use a citation style that requires title case, Zotero will automatically capitalize all words in the title when you insert the citation.

How can I extract Zotero references from my Word file so I can share them wih someone else?

Use the ultra-cool Reference Extractor Tool! "Reference Extractor is a tool to extract Zotero and Mendeley references from Microsoft Word .docx documents. Extracted references can be saved as CSL JSON, BibTeX, RIS, or APA style."  (Its freeware so if you find it helpful, you might consider buying the guy a coffee via PayPal)

How do I cite an ebook (or e-book, eBook, Ebook, EBOOK, or ebooque) in Zotero ?

Coming soon, once I do some investigating...but for now, look at the rules for your specific style (i.e. MLA) for citing ebooks (see, then edit your bibliographic reference to make it fit. 

What kinds of attached files can Zotero index and search? 

OCR'd/Indexed PDFs (those that can be searched). Zotero claims it can also search attached .RTF and .TXT files, but I have had problems. I need to re-check this; will report back.

Can I annotate my PDFs within Zotero?

No, but you can via a separate program (i.e. Adobe Acrobat X) and then upload the annotated PDF to Zotero. Zotero will search any notes that are in comment boxes. Remember you can print out a PDF with or without annotations (markups). The tablet programs PaperShip  (for iOS only) and ZotFile let you send a PDF to an app like PDFExpert or iAnnotate, annotate the PDF, then send the annotated version back to your Zotero library ; the PaperShip app also lets you annotate PDFs inside the app ($5 in-app for the full set of tools) (see the Zotero on Mobile Devices tab on this guide). 

Note: If you used Acrobat Reader or PaperShip to annotate a PDF, Zotero will search/find Text Comments but not Sticky Notes - as a general rule, you can search PDF annotations that can be highlighted, but not those that can only be seen via mouse-over (also, you can see and search more annotations using a standalone PDF reading app than you can viewing a PDF in your browser). Every PDF application seems to be slightly different in terms of kinds of markups can be searched, so do some experimentation!

My journal article /chapter was in print and I copied it; can I add it to my Zotero library?

You can add any kind of electronic file to your Zotero library as an attachment (or as a basic item that has one Note field). However, if you just scanned it, Zotero will not search inside of it - if you scanned it and converted it to an indexed, OCR'd PDF using a program like Adobe Acrobat X or Nitro, you will be able to search inside of the PDF. For more information on how to create PDFs, see the Creating Searchable PDFs tab in the Zotero guide: . There are also smartphone apps that you can use to photograph text  and convert it to searchable PDFs (see the Zotero for Mobile Devices tab in this guide). Please keep copyright/fair use rules in mind....  

How do I migrate all my old references and PDFs to Zotero?

I advise doing it over several nights, no more than two hours at a time. For PDFs, drag them from your computer into the Zotero window. Right-click on each one and select "Retrieve metadata for PDF"  to see if you got lucky and the article was available in Google Scholar - this will capture bibliographic data from the PDF, create an item from the PDF, and auto-populate bibliographic fields (be sure to check all the bibliographic information - it may be incorrect or incomplete!). For PDFs that are not indexed by Google Scholar, you can open them up and then create an item manually, or do a quick search of the title in a Zotero-compatible database, add the bibliographic info from the database using a translator or DOI, then drag the PDF into the Zotero item.

Can I access my Zotero library when I don't have an Internet connection?

Even if you do not have a web connection, you will still be able to access your library (which is stored on your computer hard drive) to fix stuff, write notes, open and read PDFs, manually add references, etc. Just open the application, make any changes, then sync when you have a web connection again to update your online Zotero library. Plane trips are a great opportunity to clean up your Zotero library ;-)

WebDAV? What's a WebDAV server? And do I need it now that Zotero gives me space (with extra space for purchase) on the Zotero server?

 If you don't use Zotero's storage, there are some things you will not be able to do via your online library (i.e. view a saved screenshot). For more information on Zotero and webdav servers, see Zotero's documentaiton and .

Can I back up/save my Zotero folder on DropBox/Google Drive/etc? Or can I keep my PDFs on DB/GD/etc and link them to my Zotero library items?

Note: I actually highly recommend using Zotero's own storage (I pay $20/year for 2 gigs which isn't much - it simplifies things considerably and also helps support Zotero). That said, if you really want to use your own cloud storage, this is one way to do this, but you can also use the ZotFile application, or save files to cloud services individually Also, note that this is all about saving attached files to cloud storage and establishing links to your Zotero record. Do NOT store your entire Zotero directory on cloud storage - that will corrupt your files and make a big mess... I have a how-to here .

 Eh, I tried Zotero, but it just didn't work for me. How can I delete my account? 

You can delete your Zotero account at . If you are moving to a different reference management system, look for the directions on migrating your Zotero account. If you just want to delete the whole thing, you will need to also delete the Zotero standalone application and the bridge extension ion your browser. Before you delete it, go into Preferences and open the Zotero folder - after you delete the program, you can then delete the Zotero folder and all its contents. Just make sure to get anything out of it that you might want, if you are not migrating to a different reference managment system!!!!!!!!!!


WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us