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Collecting References: Books and Articles

Zotero provides the ability to save references from many library catalogs, databases, and web pages with one click. A list of compatible sites is published by Zotero, however there are many additional sites that work with Zotero not on the list. If Zotero detects that you're looking at a book or article on a catalog, database, or a site like, LibraryThing 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.


Web search bar with page icon highlighted

By clicking on the book icon, you will see in the lower right corner of the screen the item being Saved.

Saving item box that appears when an item is being saved




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.

Screen shot with folder icon highlighted

Collecting References: Other Web Sites

Screen shot with icon to create new item highlightedOther Web Sites and Databases  

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

Click the Create New Item from Current Page button to save a link to the page. This will save a new "web page" item to your library. You can add information about the author, etc., if you wish.

You may also want to attach a snapshot of the page. 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.

Take a snapshot by right-clicking the new item you just added to your library, select Add Attachment and then "Attach Snapshot of Current Page" from the menu. You can click the "view snapshot" button in the right pane to see it.

Organizing 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. Your references can be stored in multiple collections at the same time, when making updates or notes on a reference it will update in all places.  

How to name a new collection pop up box

Attaching Files

It's easy to attach files (like PDFs) to items in your Zotero library.  Just drag the 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.  With Zotero's new file sync option you will also be able to access these documents on any computer you are sync'd to. 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.


Steps to attach files to items in Zotero


You can also manually add an attachment. Right click on the item and choose Add Attachment, next you will have the option to attach links, files, snapshots, or the current page.

Creating a Bibliography

It's easy to create a bibliography from your Zotero library.

Select the references or collections you want to include. Hold the control key and click to select multiple items.

Right-click one of the selected items and choose Create Bibliography.

Choose the bibliographic style you want, and select the output format:

  • Save as RTF (Rich Text Format)
  • Save as HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
  • Copy to clipboard
  • Print

Screen shot of creating a bibliography

Adding items by ISBN

Screen shot of adding an item by identifierHave 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.