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Library Research Guides


Zotero is a free citation management tool to help you save and organize citations and automatically create formatted bibliographies.

Save Citations - Overview

You can add citations to your Zotero library in a number of different ways:

1. Import citation information from databases and library catalogs.

3. Automatically save web pages.

4. Retrieve metadata associated with PDF files.

5. Import citation information from other citation management tools.

6. Manually enter citation information.

Note: If you use EndNote, you need to change the default settings in Zotero so that you are not prevented from using Direct Export to EndNote features. To do so, right-click on the Zotero connector in your web browser, select Options, and under Automatic File Importing, uncheck the box that says  Import BibTeX/RIS/Refer files into Zotero.

Where are citations saved?

By default, your Zotero library is stored in a folder called Zotero in your user directory on your computer. You can choose some other options;  for more information, see The Zotero Data Directory.

Save Citations - Video

Save Citations - Video

Click image to view video in a new window.

Getting Stuff into Zotero - Video

Running Time: 4:03

Import Citations from Databases and Catalogs

Zotero is compatible with many databases and library catalogs, including:

  • Library Catalog Search
  • ProQuest
  • PubMed
  • EBSCOhost
  • InfoTrac
  • OCLC FirstSearch

You may view the full list of systems that Zotero supports.

Once you have your search results, you can import multiple citations at the same time or choose just one individual citation.

If you are on a page with a list of results, a Folder icon (Folder icon) will appear in your address bar. If you are looking at an individual record, a Book icon () or Article icon (Article icon) will appear instead. Click on the displayed icon.

  • If it is an individual record, it will immediately be added to your library.
  • If it is a result list, a box will appear with a list of all of the records so you can check the items you would like to import.
    Click OK and your items will appear in your library.

Select Items window

Create Citations from Webpages

To import citations for webpages into your library:

1. In the Middle Panel, click on the Create New Item from the Current Page icon (New item from current page icon).
Information about the current webpage will automatically be pulled into your library.

2. Edit the information by clicking on each field in the Right Panel.

Zotero automatically saves the information that you import. When you cite a webpage, Zotero only pulls in the information available on the page. If the author is not listed, you will have to enter the name(s) manually using the methods described above.

You can also take a picture of a webpage that will be entered in your library as a citation.
(By default, Zotero saves snapshots when you save a webpage to your library.) 

To save a snapshot:

Click on the New Child Attachment icon (New Child Attachment icon) in the Middle Panel and choose from the drop-down menu:

New Child Attachment Menu

  • Attach Snapshot of Current Page
  • Attach Link to Current Page
  • Attach Stored Copy of File... (use this option to attach a PDF)
  • Attach Link to File...

Select "Attach Stored Copy of File..." to attach a PDF to a saved citation.

Create Citations from Webpages - Video

Cite webpages - Video

Create Citations from Webpages - Video

Click the image to view the video in a new window.

Retrieve Metadata from PDF Files

Perhaps you already have a hard drive full of PDFs; in that case looking up each of them in order to import their citations into Zotero would be a real pain. Fortunately Zotero has the ability to match PDF documents to their metadata using Google Scholar. When Zotero finds a match, it creates a new library item for the paper, downloads the bibliographic metadata and attaches the original PDF to the new item. This makes it easy to move all your old PDFs into Zotero.

In order to match PDF metadata you will first need to install the PDF indexing tools as described in Search for Your Saved Citations. To match a PDF document in Zotero:

  1. Locate the PDF files you want to import, select them, and drag them to your Zotero Library. You can also use the Store Copy of File option under the New Item menu to import files into your library.

  2. Select the item(s) you want to match in the middle column, right-click (or control-click) and select “Retrieve Metadata for PDF." If Zotero finds a match, it will pull down the metadata, create a new library item, and make the original PDF an attachment to that item.

  3. If this doesn't happen within a few seconds it means that Zotero was unable to find a match in Google Scholar. In this case you'll need to follow one of the other strategies for getting items into your library.

Also see the Zotero screencast on retrieving PDF metadata for a demonstration of PDF matching.

Import from a Saved Zotero Library or Other Bibliographic Management Software

To import from a saved Zotero library or another citation program:

1.Export your citations from the other program and save as a RIS file. If you’re in Zotero, save it as a Zotero RDF (as described in the Exporting to Other CitationPrograms section of this guide).

2. Open the Zotero pane.

3. Click on the Actions icon () menu and select Import. A dialog box will appear.

4. Locate your saved document and click on Open.

5. Your selected library (or file) will appear in the Left Panel in a separate folder.

Create Citations Manually

To add a citation manually to your Zotero library:

1. Go to the Middle Panel and click on the New Item icon (Add new item icon) menu.

2. A pulldown menu will appear. Select the type of source you would like to cite. For more citations types, click on More and a full list of options will appear.

3. In the Right Panel you will see fields specific to the type of source you selected. Click on the fields to fill them in with the information for your item.