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Collecting References

The icon for the Zotero add-on will change to look like an article, book, a web page (blue-ish page), or other publication types depending on what Zotero can figure out about what you're looking at in your browser. Just click the icon and Zotero will automatically save the citation. Here's more information on how to do that.

If you're on a page of search results with many items, you'll see a folder icon instead. Click this to get a list of all the items on the page, and check off the ones you want to save.

Add References Manually

If you can't collect item information from a website, you can directly enter citation information for that item into Zotero.

  1. In Zotero, click the green icon with the plus sign in it
  2. Select the type of item you want to add (many more item types are available under "more").
  3. Fill in the item's citation information in the boxes provided.

If you wish, you can drag PDFs or image files onto the resulting entry for the item.

Adding Files (like PDFs)

1) Drag & Drop onto a citation

Dropping it onto an existing item will attach it to that item.

Each item also has an Attachments tab in the right column.  You can attach files by clicking the Attachments tab and then the Add button.

TIP: Once you have attached the files, you may want to have Zotero automatically update the name of the file for you. Right-click (or comm+click on a Mac) on the file and select "Rename File from Parent Metadata."

2) Drag & Drop without a previously existing citation

You can also drag a file directly into your Zotero library without first adding a citation entry. Once you've done that, you can right-click (command click on a Mac) on the new file and select one of these options:

  1. "Retrieve Metadata for PDF"
    Zotero will attempt to read and find citation information for this file automatically. If it fails, you can go on to step 2.
  2. "Create Parent Item"
    Zotero will give you a blank set of fields, and you can fill in the citation information manually.


Organizing Your Library


Create collections to organize your references. Reference can be in more than one collection at a time, and all your references will show up in "My Library."

To see which collection(s) a particular Item is in, select the item and then hold down the Option key. This will highlight the appropriate collection(s).


Each item has a "Tags" tab. Add tags here.

If you want to add multiple items to a single tag, select them and then drag them onto the appropriate tag in the Tags box in the lower right-hand corner.


Think about setting up either folders or tags that represent functional points in your research process. For example, a tag for "ILL" for items where you'll need to request full text through Interlibrary Loan, or "follow up" for items that have rich bibliographies that you want to come back to.

Many people like to have a folder that they use only for initial collection, before they go through and categorize, tag, fix, edit, and otherwise file away their new items. This way you don't lose these disorganized items into a large library where they can be hard to find later.

For even more ideas to think about, see Best Practices for Group Libraries even if you're not creating a group library.

Seeing if the Library has access to the full text of an article

  1. Highlight an article
  2. Click the arrow button that says "Locate" when you hover over it
  3. Select "Library Lookup"
  4. If we have the full text of the article, you can attach the file using the instructions below.

If you have not yet configured the "Library Lookup" feature, you can do that by going to Preferences. In the "Advanced" section look for "OpenURL" and past the following URL into the "Resolver" box: