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Zotero is free, easy to use software that helps you save, manage, and cite research sources.

Video Tutorial: Creating Citations and Bibliographies with Zotero

Citations & Bibliographies in Word

Word Processor Integration

Zotero Standalone, when installed properly, automatically integrates with Microsoft Word. If you are unable to access the Zotero tools in Word after installing Zotero, follow these instructions:

  1. Save any unsaved work in Microsoft Word, then quit Word
  2. Go to your Zotero Preferences (Edit > Preferences in Windows, Zotero > Preferences in macOS)
  3. From the Cite menu in Preferences, click on Install Microsoft Word Add-In

Once the integration is complete, you can use Zotero to include properly formatted citations within Word documents.

PC and Mac users can access the Zotero tools in Word under the Zotero menu on the top horizontal toolbar:

Zotero tab in Microsoft Word

Some Mac users (Office 2016 for Mac and earlier) might see the Zotero tools in Word under the Add-ins menu on the top horizontal toolbar:

zotero word for mac 2016

Some Mac users (Office 2011 for Mac) may see a floating Zotero toolbar when opening Word. Alternatively, the Zotero tools may be accessed from the "scripts" menu:

word mac 2011 toolbar

Inserting Citations

To add a citation, look for a button or menu item that says Add/Edit Citation or Zotero Insert Citation. If this is your first citaiton in the document, you'll first need to select your desired citation style from the document preferences window that appears. Then, you'll see that the insert citation dialog appears; it's either a red search bar or a small window with your Zotero library, depending on your setup. 

  • If you see a Red Search Bar, search for and select the reference you want to cite, press Enter to select it, and then Enter again to insert it. Zotero will add the citation at your cursor.

  • If you see a Window listing your Zotero library, search or browse for the reference you want to cite, select it from the list, and then click OK. Zotero will add the citation at your cursor.

Editing Citations

You may occasionally need to edit a citation you inserted with Zotero--to add page numbers, prefix or suffix information, or to omit the author's name, for example. To do this, click within the text of the citation (or the footnote, depending on the style you're using). The citation should become highlighted in gray--this means you're ready to edit. Now, from the Zotero tools menu in Word, select the button or menu item for Add/Edit Citation or Zotero Edit Citation. This will bring up the insert citation dialog you saw when inserting the citation.

  • If you see a Red Search Bar, click on the reference you need to edit, and then enter any necessary information in the popup that appears. Hit enter to accept the changes, then hit enter again to insert them. 
    Edit citation in the red search bar in Zotero

  • If you see a Window listing your Zotero library, enter any necessary information in the boxes at the bottom of the window, then click OKEdit citation classic mode Zotero

Note: in all instances, it's best to not type directly within the text of a citation inserted by Zotero. Always use the Edit Citation tool for making changes to in-text citations or footnotes, even for small changes like adding page numbers. If you need to omit an author's last name from an in-text citation because you have introduced them earlier in the sentence, use the Suppress Author option. If your citation contains incorrect information (a misspelled name, for example), make those corrections in your Zotero library, then hit Refresh in your Zotero tools in Word. 

Inserting a Bibliography

After you've inserted at least one citation, you'll be able to insert a bibliography of all of the sources cited in that document with Zotero. To add a bibliography, look for a button or menu item that says Add Bibliography or Zotero Insert Bibliography. Your bibliography will appear at your cursor, and any new citations you add to the document will be added automatically to the bibliography.

Editing a Bibliography

Sometimes you might need to add additional sources to a bibliography that were not directly cited in the text of your document. To do this, click within the text of the bibliography. The bibliography should become highlighted in gray--this means you're ready to edit. Now, from the Zotero tools menu in Word, select the button or menu item for Edit Bibliography. This will bring up the Edit Bibliography window. To add sources, select them in the middle column, then click the green arrow to move them to the section labeled References in Bibliography

Changing Citation Styles

It's easy to change your document to a different citation style. From the Zotero tools menu in Word, select the button or menu item for Document Preferences or Set Doc Preferences. This will bring up the Document Preferences window. Select the citation style you'd like from the list, then click OK. 

Note: if you're changing between an in-text style (e.g., APA or MLA) to a footnotes style (e.g. Chicago), you will need to ensure that your ending punctuation is correct with respect to its placement around the citation. Zotero will not modify this.

Quick Copy & Other Methods

Quick Copy / Click-and-Drag

Sometimes you just need a quick citation. Zotero’s Quick Copy feature makes it easy to grab a single citation or an entire bibliography directly from your Zotero library. To generate a quick bibliographic citation, simply click on a source in your Zotero library and drag it into a text box (an email, Google Doc, etc.). If you hold shift before dragging, it will insert an in-text citation or footnote, depending on your default citation style. You may change the default citation style in your Zotero Preferences menu: Edit > Preferences > Export (Windows) or Zotero > Preferences > Export (macOS).

Right Click Menu

Another way to get a quick citation or an entire bibliography is to right click (Ctrl+click on Mac) on a single source, a selection of multiple sources, or an entire collection in your Zotero Library. Select Create Bibliography from Item/Items/Collection

right click menu

Select the citation style you want, select whether you want citations or a bibliography, and select Copy to Clipboard. You can now paste your bibliography into a document or text box.

create bibliography from collection

Note: Pasting in a bibliography or using the click and drag method (Quick Copy) creates bibliographies that are independent from your Zotero library. Future changes to sources in your library will not affect these bibliographies.

Zotero Guide

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Kyle Denlinger
Subjects: Counseling, Education