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Zotero @ the WSU Libraries

Using Zotero to Create Annotated Bibliographies

This method uses the Quick Copy drag and drop process. What is the difference between using this method versus the Microsoft Word/Libre Office Zotero plug-ins? ...

To drag and drop in an in-text reference instead of a bibliographic citation, hold the <shift> key down as you drag the item from the Zotero window to your document/email/blog post/etc.


Check your Preferences to make sure that your Default Output Format (under the Export tab) is set to the proper citation style. If your preferred citation style is not on the list, follow these instructions:

  1. Make sure that your Zotero has the citation style you need to use. Go to Action Menu -> Preferences (this will open the preferences pop-up window) -> Cite -> Styles -> click on Get Additional Styles. A new window will open and you can search for your style in the Zotero Style Repository.
  2. Click on the Install button (if there is no Install button, click on the name of the style) then click on Install in the pop-up confirmation window.
  3. You can then close the Zotero Style Repository window and you will be back on your original window. You can close your Zotero preferences pop-up window at this point.
  •  Zotero Standalone Users: You will need to right-click and download the style file (via Save Link As); when you open it you will be prompted to add the updated style to Zotero. (I tested this using Chrome; it may be different in Safari)


  1. Make sure the bibliographic information for each of your items is complete, and that your titles are in sentence case, not capital case (if a title is in capital case, right click on it and select Transform Text and change it to sentence case; you may need to manually adjust capital letters for proper nouns, etc. Do this also for the Short Title field).
  2. Write your annotations, and then create a new Note for each item. Put a title at the top of the note field, so you know what you have done, i.e. My Annotation 9/2012. Paste your annotation under the title (you can also just annotate directly in your Zotero note). Use the HTML options in the Notes to italicize, underline, etc.  You can open and edit the Note in a separate window if that is easier for you.
  3. Open a Word/Google Doc/email/etc document on your monitor, and then resize your Firefox or Standalone window so that it is positioned in front of the Word document, with your Zotero library showing.
  4. Write/paste in your introduction to your annotated bibliography. Then drag each AB item out from your Zotero Library on to the document. It will be formatted in your selected citation style. (It will not be associated with your Zotero library, so refreshing your Zotero library will not change any of the bibliographic elements.) You will need to review and edit the citation to ensure it has all necessary bibliographic elements and is formatted correctly!
    • NOTE: If you are using APA style (and maybe others) the first citation will probably go outside of your left margin – to fix it, do a <Control> <shift> m while the reference is still highlighted; this should place it properly on the page. After that, you will just need to use <control> m while the reference is highlighted to place each following citation in the proper space on the page.
  5. It's easier to insert your annotations after you have inserted all of your citations. Go back to your Zotero library, find the note with your annotation for each citation, copy the annotation, and paste it into your annotated bib document right after the citation. It will look odd – when you see the little yellow-outlined control option to change how something is pasted in, be sure to pick the middle option (merge formatting).
  6. You may need to change the font/font size/line spacing/margins to match your intended fonts and assignment requirements. It may be easier to do this at the end, after you have inserted all your references and annotations.
  7. Write/paste in your AB conclusion. You are done!

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