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Using Zotero

Getting Help

We are happy to help you with Zotero setup. We're familiar with common problems and in most cases can help you get it setup quickly, avoiding too much frustration. Get in touch with a librarian before you get too frustrated -- we can help make it a less painful process!

The word processor plug-in isn't showing up.

If you don’t see the Zotero tab in Word, Libre Office or Google Docs, restart those apps. The Zotero desktop app needs to be running before you open Word or Google docs for the Zotero tab to appear.

If you are still not seeing the Zotero plug-in try the following tips.

Make sure the add-in is installed

Open Zotero (and close your word processor), then open Zotero preferences (Edit -> Preferences). Under the Cite tab, you should see Microsoft Word listed in the Word Processors tab. Click on the button to "Reinstall Microsoft Word/LibreOffice Add-in." That should hopefully establish a link to Word/LibreOffice and when you open Word/LibreOffice again, it should show up.

Screenshot showing Zotero preferences word processors dialog box: install any add-ons you would like to use; be sure to have the word processor installed for the add-ons to work.

Enable Macros

This is most common on Macs. When you open MS Word, you may see a warning message pop-up about whether you want to enable macros. The Zotero plug-in requires macros to work, so you need to be sure that macros are enabled.


The word processor plug-ins do not work with Chromebooks. You can copy/paste reference entries from the Zotero Web Library, but there are not any Google Docs integrations.

If it still isn’t showing up, try restarting your computer.

If you have tried the above solutions but are still not seeing your plug-ins, check the Zotero support documentation page on Word Processor Plug-in Troubleshooting for more tips.

You may also want to try uninstalling and reinstalling Zotero.

Please contact us with any specific questions anywhere along the process.

How do I fix an incorrect citation in Zotero?

When you use a program to generate citations, you will find some errors. It is always important to double-check your citations and reference entries to make sure there are no errors.

When you find an error, there are a couple of ways to address this.

Change the article's metadata

In Zotero you can correct things like author names, URLs, and more. Just click on the article in your library and edit the fields in the menu to the right.

Screenshots showing right-hand editing menu for item records.

Edit the bibliography

At the end of your project, you can insert your bibliography and edit the entries. To make the entries editable, you will need to 'unlink' them by clicking on the Zotero tab in your word processor and select Unlink Citations. Warning: this cuts the connection to Zotero so that any updates you make in Zotero will not be synced to your document. Any other changes you need to make will need to be made manually in your document.

My Zotero in-text citations aren't working.

Here's the scenario:

Your word processor add-in is installed (you can see the Zotero tab).

You click “Add/edit citation” but instead of seeing the red search box, nothing happens.

Screenshot showing the red search box for adding citations in your word processor.

If this happens to you, don't panic -- try the following tips and hopefully you'll have a quick solution:

First, try being patient. It can take a while and may require a Zotero restart.

Sometimes the search box appears underneath your word processor window. Minimize your word processor to see if it is simply out of sight.

If you haven’t set your citation style, this may be blocking the pop-up. Open Preferences, select the Cite tab, and choose your citation style. This can be changed at any time.


You may also want to make sure that your version of Zotero is up to date. The Zotero team works pretty quickly to fix issues with other software, but you need to make sure that you are running the most recent version with those fixes.

Follow these instructions to check for and/or install updates:

  1. Close Word
  2. Open Zotero
  3. Click on the 'Help' menu and select 'Check for updates.'
  4. 'Apply' (install) the updates.
  5. Restart Zotero (the update will run when Zotero is re-opened).

I'm getting messages that say I need administrator approval.

Any error messages that say you need administrator approval to install Zotero should be forwarded to your IT support. You may have admin privileges for some operations but not all or there may be some other restriction that only they can address.