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Using Zotero

What is Zotero?

What is Zotero?

Zotero is a powerful, free and open source tool that is designed to make your life easier. It is used to collect, organize, annotate, and cite sources that you come across during your research. Zotero allows you to quickly save sources from various sites and databases into one account, and quickly generates bibliographies and in-text citations in the correct citation style. It works right in your browser, making it easy to save citations while you search. You can also take notes in Zotero, allowing you to store your reactions to a source right next to its citation. Use the Zotero word processor plugins to easily cite your sources and create a bibliography while you work.

Why use Zotero?

With Zotero you can:

  • Store references in one place
  • Keep reading notes linked to sources (no more index cards!)
  • Download citations directly from databases
  • Automatically format bibliographies and citations in MLA, APA, Chicago Manual of Style, and thousands of other styles using Microsoft Word and Open Office
  • Access your Zotero library from any location and remotely back up and sync your library

(NOTE: Though Zotero will save you lots of time in the creation of footnotes/in-text citations and bibliographies, it's always a good idea to proofread your work. Also, see the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) to access online resources about the major citation style guides.)

Your Zotero Account

Free & Open Source Software

Zotero is an open-source platform and does not use your email to send spam or advertisements. It is also a free service with a limit of 300 MB of cloud storage in the Web Library. That should be more than enough for any HSU student and we do not recommend signing up for a paid storage plan. However, you can upgrade at reasonable rates (the next tier is $20/year for 2 GB of cloud storage). Also, there is no limit (other than your computer's hard drive) for storage in the desktop application. You are only limited to 300 MB for the Web Library, which is not strictly necessary if you use your own computer. The Zotero Web Library is particularly useful for syncing across devices, but doesn't necessarily need to be used if you always use the same device.

If, after trying out Zotero, you decide it is not for you, you can simply delete your account and uninstall the application from your computer. If you are curious about how Zotero.org uses your data, take a look at the terms of service and/or the cloud service privacy policy.

The organization behind the development of Zotero, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, does amazing work. If you're interested, you should check them out!

Zotero Download

Zotero 5.0 available

Zotero users should read the blog post on the release of Zotero 5.0 and changes to the program. The biggest change is the move from Zotero as a Firefox extension to a standalone application.


This guide is a collection of material from the following guides: