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Zotero: Citation Management Software

Four ways to add References to Zotero

There are a four ways to add references to your Zotero Library. Below this box are details explanations for each method.

  • Zotero Browser Connector (works best with library database),
  • Drag a PDF article into your Zotero library.
  • Enter a standard number (ISBN, DOI) via Zotero application,
  • Manually enter a citation in the Zotero application.

Zotero Browser Connector

Once the Zotero Connector is added to your browser you should see a “Z” icon near the browser address bar (especially if on blank page/tab). This “Z” icon  will change based on the web page you are visiting.

The Connector is one of the best features of Zotero because it is the communicator between the Zotero program (must be opened) and your browser. When you are visiting any web page, the connector detects the type of item (article, book, web page) you are viewing. The connector will change from the Z to a different icon to match the type of item you are viewing.

So to add content via the Zotero Connector

  1. Open Zotero program
  2. Find an items
  3. Select the icon (paper, book, webpage or folder**)
  • A little window will briefly appear in the lower right of your screen as the information is collected.
  • In the Zotero program, a new reference is created with the bibliographic information.
  • If a PDF was on the page, it was also collected in the Zotero program
  • NOTE: The connector works best for adding articles and books from library databases

**If the icon is a folder, you can select one or multiple items from page and a new reference is created in the Zotero program for each.

Add PDFs to your references

How to add a PDF (e.g. article) from your computer to a reference in Zotero

  1. Open Zotero
  2. Find the PDF (or any file) on your computer
  3. Drag PDF to item in Zotero
  4. Zotero will look for the metadata (e.g. citation) automatically
  5. It should now appear under the title of reference


  1. Open Zotero
  2. Right-click on reference
  3. Select Add Attachment
  4. Find PDF (or any file)
  5. It should now appear under the title of reference

Standard number (ISBN, DOI, PMID)

You can quickly add items to your library if you already know items' standard number, which are unique to each item.

  • ISBN - book identifier (10 or 13 digits)
  • Digital Object Identifier (DOI) - many scholarly articles have this number, and they all start with "10."
  • PubMed ID - health/medical-related articles in the PubMed database 

In the Zotero program

  1. Select “Add Item by Identifier” button ()
  2. Enter the standard number (or paste in)
  3. Press the Enter key on keyboard
  4. If the item is found a new reference is created in Zotero with the bibliographic information

Add references manually

Manually add an item to your Zotero library:

  1. Open the Zotero program
  2. Select the green “New Item” () button at the top of the center column.
  3. Select the desired item type from the drop-down menu (e.g. book, book chapter, article, etc)
  4. An empty space (place holder) for the item type will now appear
  5. Enter the bibliographic information in the right panel
  6. The empty space will change with the new information.

NOTE: Use for adding items (e.g., websites, reports) from the open web