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Syracuse University Libraries

Zotero: Saving Citations

The save button

It looks a little different in different browsers. The first time you use Zotero, you might need to click on the puzzle-piece icon to use the Zotero extension and pin it so that it automatically appears.


Zotero browser connector for Chrome, to the right of the URL bar

In Chrome, the browser connector will appear to the right of the web address bar.


Zotero browser connector for Firefox, to the right of the URL bar

In Firefox, the browser connector will appear to the right of the web address bar.


Note: After a recent update to the browser, there have been issues with Safari's compatibility with Zotero.  It is therefore recommended that you use Zotero with a browser other than Safari.

Saving PDFs

If you already have some PDFs saved from past research, just drag and drop them from a desktop folder nto your Zotero library. Zotero will automatically search online and match the PDFs with citations if possible.

Adding items manually

There may be times when you need to add an item to your library by hand.  If so, use the green "plus" icon and choose the type of item from the dropdown list.  A window will open with the appropriate fields to complete for that item type.

Importing Entries from an Existing Bibliography into Zotero

Already have a bibliography and want to import the entries into Zotero?  It doesn't necessarily have to be done manually.  This University of California Berkeley Library has put together a list of tools that will let you create files of existing bibliographies that can then be imported to create entries in Zotero.

Adding items by ISBN

Have the book in front of you and want to add it to your Zotero library without having to search for a citation?

If you have a book's ISBN, an online article's DOI or PMID number, just click the magic wand button: "Add item by identifier." Type in the book or article's number, and Zotero will automatically download its information and save it to your library.

Other uses for Zotero

Even if you never write a paper using Zotero, it can be a resource for saving a collection of articles and links which you can refer to. Since it’s free, it isn’t necessary to have a Syracuse log in to continue to use it, so you will always be able to access your library even after you have left the University. A word of caution however: links don’t necessarily stay the same forever, and what you are linking to MIGHT require a subscription or login that you previously had through Syracuse. Nonetheless, having all your information in one place will make it easier to have a place to start when you’re looking for similar information well into the future.

Collecting References: Books and Articles

If Zotero detects that you're looking at a book or article on a library catalog or database, or a site like or the New York Times, you'll see a book or page icon appear in the address bar of your browser. Just click the icon and Zotero will automatically save the citation.

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.

Collecting References: Other Web Sites

Other Web Sites  

Zotero can't automatically capture citation info from some web pages, but you can still add them to your Zotero library.

Right-click in your browser and choose "Save to Zotero" from the menu. This will save a new "web page" item to your library. You can add information about the author, etc., if you wish.

This will also attach a snapshot of the page to the citation. Taking a snapshot saves a copy of the page to your computer. It includes the page's text and images, so if the page is removed later, or if you're offline, you'll still be able to view your copy.

Organizing Your Library

Click the Zotero button at the bottom of your browser to open your library. At the top left is a folder button with a green plus sign. Click this to create a new "collection."

Create collections to organize your references. Collections are like file folders on your computer, but a reference can be in more than one collection at a time. In other words, a book on the Civil War could be filed in your "Civil War" collection, your "Georgia History" collection and your "19th Century America" collection without having to make three copies of the reference.

Attaching Files

Zotero automatically saves PDFs along with citations when possible (you can change this in the preferences menu if you wish.) Attachments take up space in your Zotero account -- you get 300 MB free and can buy more space if needed.

You can attach files manually by dragging a PDF (or other file) into your Zotero pane.  Dropping a file onto a collection, or in between library items, will copy it into your library as a standalone item.  Dropping it onto an existing item will attach it to that item.  This is the easiest way to attach a copy of an article to its entry in your library.

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.

Saving citations

The below video breaks down the process of saving resources to your Zotero drive. It includes information about some of the icons you will see in the application, how Zotero actually works to save citation information, and also the process of saving multiple resources (such as from a search you have done on the library website). Questions? Contact Syracuse University Libraries for more help.

For instructions on how to install Zotero please visit here.


This page features material by Jason Puckett from Georgia State University Library's Zotero guide.