Skip to Main Content

Referencing Guide: Zotero

Is Zotero right for me?

Zotero is a free, easy-to-use tool that helps you collect, manage, cite, and share your research sources. Zotero automatically senses content in your web browser, allowing you to add it to your personal library with a single click. You can add PDFs, images, audio and video files, or snapshots of web pages.

Use Zotero to:

  • organise your personal research library
  • share references with other researchers
  • cite resources from your library and easily change citation styles
  • generate bibliographies automatically in Microsoft Word, Google Docs or OpenOffice
  • synchronise your research library across multiple devices

Just need a quick citation or reference list? Try Zoterobib. You will still need to check every citation, so it can be easier to create citations manually for shorter assignments. 

Adding References

You can drag and drop a PDF document into Zotero, and the program will add it using the publication details. Not every file will work depending on the data in the file. 

When you download Zotero, you will also need to download the Zotero Connector, allowing you to cite from a website. There is a connector available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Click on your connector to start your citation. 

The location of the connector icon will be different for each browser. Here is an example of the Connector from Chrome; it is added to the extension area at the top of the browser:

The appearance of the connector depends on what Zotero detectors. If multiple references are detected, a folder icon will appear. A book icon will appear if a book is detected and scales when a legal source is detected, and a page for a journal or website. 

After selecting using the connector, you will be asked to save the source. 

Always check the information saved in Zotero to ensure it is correct. 

Many databases will have an 'export' function allowing you to send the citation details to Zotero. This will look different for each database. Databases like Google Scholar and Library Search have export functions.

If presented with export options,  select 'RIS', 'Zotero' or 'EndNote'; this will allow you to download. 

 Here is an example from Google Scholar:

When you download, you may get a message asking to open with Zotero:

In Zotero use the plus sign to manually add a reference. Start by selecting what type of source you would like to cite (book, journal, case) and then fill in the details in the fields. 

Using an ISBN, a DOIs or another identifier you can copy the number and paste it in to add to Zotero. 

Organising References

To edit a reference, click on the reference you wish to edit in Zotero, using the right-hand Info tab to update and edit the reference. 

Creating Folders

Use the folders icon in Zotero to create new folders and sort your references. 


You can use Tags which can then be searched and organised in Zotero. 

Citing in Microsoft Word or Google Docs

The Zotero tab should automatically be added to Microsoft Word and Google Docs when you install Zotero. 

  1. Open the Zotero tab
  2. Select 'Document Preferences' 
  3. Select your referencing style

Adding a Citation 

1. Place your cursor where you want the footnote to go.

2. Select 'Add/Edit Citation'.

 3. In the pop-up window, search for the terms of the source you want (name, author, title). When you have found your source, select it. 

Updating a Citation

After you update a citation in Zotero, select 'Refresh' to update your document. 

  1. Click on the citation.
  2. Select 'Add/ Edit' Citation from the Zotero Tab in Word. 
  3. Next to the Citation information, click on the Z. 
  4. From the drop-down menu, select 'Classic View'.
  5. From the editing field, enter the pinpoint in the suffix field with a comma if it is a page number for a case or journal, or in the page field where no comma is needed, for example, for books or legislation. 


Before you submit your assignment, unlink citations, this is irreversible and should only be done on your final version. You can save a draft with your citations linked. 

This will allow you to manually edit or change any citations you need.  

Introduction to Zotero

Help with Zotero

RSS Feeds

Feeds are a great way to discover new research. With feeds, you can subscribe to updates from a journal, website, publisher, institution, research group, or other source and quickly find new articles or works. If you find an item in a publication's feed that you want to save and read further, you can add it to your Zotero library with the click of a button.

Charles Darwin University acknowledges the traditional custodians across the lands on which we live and work, and we pay our respects to Elders both past and present.
CRICOS Provider No: 00300K (NT/VIC) 03286A (NSW) RTO Provider No: 0373 Privacy StatementCopyright and DisclaimerFeedback • ABN 54 093 513 649