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Research Help & Instruction

Citation Tool - Zotero

About Zotero


Zotero (pronounced "zoh-TAIR-oh") is a citation tool that helps users collect, manage, and cite research sources. It's free, easy to use, and connects with your web browser to download sources. 

Zotero allows you to attach PDFs, notes and images to your citations, organize them into collections for different projects, and create bibliographies.

Zotero can detect what type of resource you are viewing online, including articles, books, and webpages. You can then use it to find and save the full reference information. If the source is an online article or webpage, Zotero can optionally store a copy of the source as a screenshot. You can then add notes, tags, and related resources.

To use Zotero, you can either log into Zotero Online from their website, or download Zotero Desktop, which includes plugins that connect to your favorite browser (Chrome, Firefox, or Safari). Users can also install plugins for MS Word, Google Docs, and OpenOffice, so you can "cite while you write."

Quick Links

Zotero - set up a Zotero account

Zotero documentation and support - resources to help with all aspects of Zotero usage, from installation and getting started to troubleshooting and advanced features

Vassar Zotero guide - in addition to Vassar-specific help, this guide also includes details about how to set up and use Zotero "groups" for collaboration

ZoteroBib - from the team behind Zotero, this tool is good for when you need to quickly put together a one-off bibliography; the Zotero folks recommend using the full version of Zotero for longer-term projects

What's the difference between Zotero Desktop and Zotero Online?

Zotero Desktop is a good option if:

  • You prefer to use your citation manager in a separate window, rather than in your web browser.
  • You want to insert citations into Microsoft Word or LibreOffice documents.
  • You have a rather large library of citations, and need the extended storage space your computer provides.

Zotero Online is a good option if:

  • You work on many different computers, and need a portable library of citations.
  • You have a Chromebook, or other type of laptop that does not allow software installation.

You can install Zotero Desktop and use Zotero Online. Make sure to use the "sync" button in the upper right of the online version and Zotero Desktop and sign in so that your citations sync between them.