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Learn About Zotero

Welcome to this Zotero guide. Use this guide to learn how to use Zotero - a free, open source tool for creating bibliographies, storing, and managing your sources. This guide uses screenshots and text to walk you through how to use Zotero. The tabs on the left side of the page guide you through a variety of Zotero topics. If you learn better with videos, use this video tutorial, which breaks down the steps of using Zotero into short video segments. 

What is Zotero?

Zotero icon

Zotero is a free tool that collects, manages, and cites research sources. It's easy to use and lives in your web browser where you do your work. Zotero can be downloaded as a StandAlone version that works with the Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge browsers. In this tutorial I will be using images from an installation of StandAlone Chrome, but other browser versions are very similar. 

Zotero allows you to attach PDFs, notes, and images to your citations, organize them into easily searchable collections for different projects, and create bibliographies using Word (for Mac or Windows) or OpenOffice using any of over 10,000 citation styles. 

References can be added to a Zotero library in many different ways:  directly from databases, journal websites, Google Scholar, or a library's catalog, by reference file import (for example from an EndNote library), by dragging in PDFs from your hard drive, and by entering them manually.

Citation Manager Comparison

Many people like to know the pros and cons between the various citation management software choices before they start using a particular tool.  Here is a brief overview of the differences between three common tools: Zotero, EndNote, and Mendeley.  A more in-depth comparison between EndNote, Mendeley, and Zotero is attached if you are interested.

  Zotero Mendeley EndNote
Cost Free Free Free for OSU Students through IS software licensing program; faculty/staff purchase annual license
Web based? Yes Yes, but not primarily Has web capabilities
Storage capacity Unlimited local storage and data syncing; Unlimited free Zotero file syncing if you register with an OSU email address Unlimited local storage and data syncing; 1GB personal and 100MB shared online space (larger online storage plans available for purchase) Unlimited local storage
Create group or shared libraries Yes Yes, free for up to 3 group members (larger group plans available for purchase) Yes, up to 15 members
Number of Citation Styles +10,000 styles +10,000 styles ~5000

Zotero Workshops @ OSU