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Zotero: A Beginner's Guide: Saving Citations

Collecting References: Books and Articles

Zotero provides the ability to save references from most library catalogs and databases, as well as from news websites, YouTube, Amazon, and more. (Zotero publishes a list of compatible sites, and many sites not on this list also work.) If Zotero detects that you're looking at a book or article in a catalog, database, or a site like,, you'll see a book or page icon appear next to the 'Z' at the top of your browser.. Just click the icon and Zotero will automatically save the citation:

Once you've clicked on the icon, a window will appear in the lower, right-hand corner of your Firefox screen indicating that the work is being saved to Zotero:


The icon you see next to the 'Z' will change depending on the format of the item  you are currently viewing:


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. **Important: If you are saving multiple items from a FASTsearch results list or Google Scholar, Zotero will only save the citations and not full-text articles.  

Collecting References: Other Web Sites

Other Web Sites  

Zotero can capture some information from most any webpage you view.  If Zotero cannot detect any metadata or citation information, it will at the very least save the page's URL and capture a screenshot of the page.  If Zotero is viewing a webpage that it doesn't know much about, you will see a generic icon that looks like a blue sheet of paper:

Attaching Files

It's easy to attach files (like PDFs) to items in your Zotero library.  Just right-click on the title of the item in your library and select 'Add Attachment'.  Note, you may choose to 'attach stored copy of a file' or 'attach link to file'.  If you choose 'stored copy', a copy of the file will be added to your library.  If you choose 'link to file', a pathway from the file on your computer to your Zotero library will be created; just remember that if you move this file around on your computer, the 'link to file' pathway will no longer work.

Organizing Your Library

Click the Zotero 'Z' button at the top 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, an article on family systems theory could be filed in your 'Theories' folder, your 'Literature Review' folder, and your 'DOCS folder' all at the same time.