Learn about different software to help save, organize and cite your research.

Video tutorials

For more in-depth information on these topics, please view the video tutorial segments in the boxes on the left side of this page.

Tips & quirks


The page of this guide is intended to highlight common issues that may arise when using Zotero.  This list is by no means comprehensive.  For the most current help information, be sure to visit consult the Zotero help forum: https://forums.zotero.org/

For more information about Zotero support, please go to: https://www.zotero.org/support/zotero_support


Have you opened an article, only to find a "grayed out" article icon or a folder icon?

If you encounter this issue, opening the PDF in another window will allow you to save properly. 

In some databases, a tiny arrow will appear in the upper right corner of the landing page of your article.  In that case, you can click on the tiny arrow to open the side panel as shown below:

This side panel will show a link at the bottom that reads"open content in new tab":

Selecting this option will cause the icon to change to allow you to save your article to your library.

Incorrect citations

Verify and Edit Your Records

Zotero will accurately import metadata supplied by most bibliographic databases, library catalogs, publisher sites, and webpages. It will even make adjustments to the metadata to compensate for known quirks (author names in all upper case, etc.) in what the supplier provides. That said, sometimes the metadata that Zotero receives is incomplete or incorrect.

Some metadata is provided with only author last names and one or two initials when the authors' full names are provided on the full text version of the article. For author names to be properly disambiguated in author-date styles, the author's name must be consistently and identically entered across all items they contributed to.

Publishers have different conventions for the casing of titles. No software can accurately and reliably convert title case to sentence case. If titles are entered in (or converted to) sentence case, Zotero can accurately convert them to title case if the style requires that format.

Zotero users should be aware of these issues and verify that the records in their library are accurate and in the correct format so that Zotero can produce well-formed citations in the text and the bibliography of your manuscript.

Editing Items

When you have selected an item in the center pane, you can view and edit its bibliographic information via the Info tab of the right-hand pane. Most fields can be clicked and edited. Changes are saved automatically as they are made. Some fields have special features, which are discussed below.


Each item can have zero or more creators, of different types, such as authors, editors, etc. To change the creator type, click the creator field label (e.g., Author:). A creator can be deleted by clicking the minus button at the end of the creator field, and additional creator fields can be added by clicking the plus button at the end of the last creator field. Creators can be reordered by clicking a creator field label and selecting “Move Up” or “Move Down”.

Each name field can be toggled between single and two field mode by clicking the “Switch to single field” / “Switch to two fields” buttons at the end of the creator field. Single field mode should be used to institutions (e.g., when the author is “Company A”), while two field mode (last name, first name) should be used for personal names. If a person has only one name (e.g., “Socrates”), enter this as a Last Name in two field mode. You can switch the order of two field author names by right-clicking on the name and choosing “Swap First/Last Names”

To quickly enter additional creators, type Shift-Enter/Retun to move immediately to a new creator field.

Journal Abbreviations

Journal articles are often cited with the abbreviated journal title. Zotero stores the journal title and journal title abbreviation in separate fields (“Publication” and “Journal Abbr”, respectively). While some citation styles require different abbreviations, most of the variation is in whether or not the abbreviation contain periods (e.g., “PLoS Biol” or “PLoS Biol.”). Because removing periods is more accurate than adding them, we recommend that you store title abbreviations in your Zotero library with periods. Zotero can then reliably strip out the periods in rendered bibliographies when the chosen citation style calls for it.


In English, titles are typically either Title Cased or Sentence cased (for the distinction, see http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2012/03/title-case-and-sentence-case-capitalization-in-apa-style.html ). Because citation styles differ in their casing requirements, and because automatic conversion from Sentence case to Title Case is much more accurate than the other way around, we recommend that you always store titles in your Zotero library in sentence case. Zotero can then reliably convert titles to Title Case in rendered bibliographies when the chosen citation style calls for it.

To help with changing the case of titles, the title fields (e.g., “Title”, “Publication”, “Series Title”, “Short Title” for the “Journal Article” item type) can be right-clicked. This shows the “Transform Text” menu, with options to convert the title to either “Title Case” or “Sentence case”. Zotero does not recognize proper nouns, and transformed titles should always be checked for capitalization errors.

If you need APA-style Sentence case, with the first letter after a colon also capitalized, we still recommend storing the title in full sentence case (with that letter in lowercase unless a proper noun), installing the Propahi plugin, and using its Uppercase Subtitles feature.

Clicking the label of the URL (“URL:”) and DOI (“DOI:”) fields will open up the (DOI-resolved) URL in your web browser.


The Extra field can be used for storing custom item metadata or data that doesn't have a dedicated field in Zotero. If you need to cite an item using a field not supplied by Zotero, you can also store such data in Extra. See Citing Fields from Extra for more details on how to cite these fields. For example, to add a DOI to a Book Section item, add this to the top of Extra: DOI: 10.1234/567890

Items are not saving correctly

If items are not successfully importing into your library, please click here to troubleshoot issues with Zotero's translators.