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University of Oregon
UO Libraries

Citation Management Software - Zotero

A guide to getting started with Zotero, a free, open source citation management tool.

Adding items to your library

There are several ways you can add items to your Zotero library. 

1. PDF files: If you already have PDF files saved to your computer that you'd like to add to your Zotero library, you can drag them into the desktop application. 

2. Use the DOI or other standard identifier: From the Zotero toolbar, click on the "Add Item by Identifier" button (). Copy and paste the identifier number associated with the item you're trying to add into the pop up window. You can use identifiers like ISBN, DOI, PubMed ID (PMID), or arXiv ID. Press the Enter key to finish adding the item to your library.

Click on add item by identifier button to enter an identifier like DOI


3. Use the Zotero browser extension: Click on the Zotero icon in your Internet browser to automatically import the citation information for an item to your library. The Zotero icon in your browser will change depending on what type of item you are looking at (journal article, book, video, etc.), but it should always say "Save to Zotero" when you hover over it. When you are looking at a journal article, the icon will appear as a white sheet of paper. When viewing a list of items, such as search results, the "Save to Zotero" icon will appear as a small folder and you will be able to select multiple items.

Screenshot of Zotero browser extension icon

If the full text of an article is available, Zotero should automatically save the PDF as an attachment. To see files that are attached to an item in Zotero, click on the arrow next to the item:

Screenshot of attachment view in Zotero


4. Add an RIS/BibText file: LibrarySearch and most databases will offer the option to export citation(s) in a particular file format that works with tools like Zotero. Open the file in Zotero to add it to your library. This is a good option for when you need to add many items to your library at once, but it will not include the PDFs of articles.


5. Manually add a source: Click on the "New Item" icon and select the type of item you are trying to add (additional options are available under "More"). Then you can manually enter the information about the item (title, author, etc.).

Screenshot of add item menu in Zotero

Editing item metadata

After adding an item to your Zotero library, you will want to review the metadata for the item and make any corrections if necessary. The metadata is the information about the item you added, such as the title, author, publication date, etc. You can edit an item's metadata in the "Info" pane on the right side of the screen. 

Click on any metadata field to edit it. You can right-click on the "Title" field to change the title capitalization to title case or sentence case, depending on the requirements of whatever citation style you will be using. 


Screenshot of Info pane for editing metadata of an item in Zotero