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Managing your references: Zotero


Zotero is a freely available desktop-based reference manager and can be used on Windows, Mac and Linux computers.

There is also an online version of Zotero, which you can set up to sync with your desktop version of Zotero and access your library of references from anywhere. The online version also lets you create groups, share references and back up your files.

An iOS app is in beta testing and there are third party apps available for iOS and Android.

This page guides you through Zotero's key features, system requirements, installation and further support with Zotero.

Using Zotero

Zotero has a range of features to help you collect, organise and cite your references.

  • Add references to your Zotero library by importing text files, dragging and dropping PDF files, using a standard identifier (ISBN, DOI and PMID), using the Zotero Connector (a piece of software called a 'plugin' which you add to your web browser), or manually entering bibliographic details
  • Organise your library using collections and tags
  • Search and delete duplicate references
  • Share your references with colleagues
  • Cite your references using a plugin in Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, OpenOffice and Google Docs

Zotero is a desktop-based reference manager but has an online element, which syncs with your desktop library. Using the online element is useful if you would like to:

  • Create groups
  • Share your references
  • Access your desktop library of references online from any computer with an internet connection
  • Sync your library across multiple computers

Zotero can be used on Windows, Mac and Linux computers.

To cite the references in your Zotero library, you need to use a word processor plugin. A plugin is available for Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, LibreOffice and Google Docs.

For detailed system requirements, visit the web page below:

To use the official iOS app in beta testing or third party app solutions, visit the web page below for further information.

Zotero Standalone

Zotero Standalone is the software you install on your computer that facilitates the collection, storage and management of your references in a library. Visit the link below to install Zotero on your computer:

Creating an online account

Creating an online account with Zotero allows you to:

  • Access your desktop library of references online from any computer with an internet connection
  • Sync your library across multiple computers
  • Create groups
  • Share your references

To create an online account, visit the web page below and click 'Register for a free account':

The online account can be used for free with 300 megabytes of storage. You can purchase more storage if necessary. The free version of Zotero is usually sufficient for storing references in your online Zotero library, but storing PDF files in your online account uses a lot of space. So that you do not need to pay for extra storage, we recommend disabling the sync of PDF files from your desktop to your online Zotero library. To do this:

  • Go to Zotero Standalone and navigate to 'Preferences'.
  • Click 'Sync' and untick the box that says 'Sync full-text content'.

To explore increasing your storage, visit the web page below:

Zotero Connector

The Zotero Connector is a web browser plugin that detects references on a web page and allows you to add references to Zotero Standalone quickly and easily. The plugin is available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Edge.

The Zotero Connector also facilitates the use of the word processor plugin for Google Docs (more details below in the Word processor section).

To install the Zotero Connector, visit the web page below:

Word processor plugin

The word processor plugin enables you to cite references from your Zotero library into your word processed document. To add the plugin to Microsoft Word, LibreOffice or OpenOffice:

  • Open the Zotero Standalone desktop programme on your computer and click 'Edit/ Preferences'
  • In the 'Cite' pane, choose 'Word Processors' and click on the button for the Microsoft Word Add-in or for LibreOffice/OpenOffice

To add the plugin to Google Docs, you need to have installed the Zotero Connector (details above in the section 'Zotero Connector'). To use the plugin in Google Docs, follow the instructions at the web page below:

Zotero on mobile devices

There are a number of third party iOS and Android app solutions, as well as an official iOS app that is in beta testing.

You can also access and manage your online Zotero library on your device's web browser without the need for an app. To add references from your device's web browser to your online Zotero library, you will need to use the Bookmarklet.

Visit the web page below for information on how to install the apps and use Zotero on a mobile device:

There are a variety of ways to add references to your Zotero library:

  • Manual entry
  • 'Zotero Connector' web browser plugin
  • Drag and drop PDF files
  • Import text files
  • Use a standard identifier (ISBN, DOI and PMID)

Take a look at our workshop handouts for instructions on how to add references to your Zotero library:

Need help with Zotero?

Zotero workshops

To see upcoming training and handouts, webinar recordings and PowerPoint presentations on how to use RefWorks, visit our workshops page:

Contact us

For help with Zotero please email

Further help

Below are links to further help from Zotero.