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Subject Guide for Research Help for Biology at Reed College


This tab teaches you how to sync and share your references with your online Zotero account.

The instructions in this guide apply to version 5 of Zotero and Word 2016.


Zotero allows you to sync your library with a Zotero web account for access from any computer. Zotero gives each user 300MB of storage for syncing file attachments (everything else, including items, notes, links, tags, are synced without limit). If you need additional storage for syncing file attachments, you may purchase more space.

  1. To setup syncing with the library on your computer, go to the Zotero menu > Preferences. Select the Sync tab
  2. Enter the username and password you created
  3. By default, syncing will happen automatically. You can turn that off by unchecking "Sync automatically"
  4. To sync manually, press the sync icon at the top right of the Zotero application
If you reach the 300MB limit for file syncing and you don't want to purchase additional space, you may turn off file syncing from the Zotero menu > Preferences > Sync. Keep in mind files in the Zotero Trash count towards your quota, so you can empty that in an attempt to free up space.

Backing Up

Syncing is not a substitute for backing up! What if you accidentally delete a bunch of references? You'll lose them for good the next time your library syncs. Here's how to make a backup of your Zotero library:

  1. In Zotero, go to the File menu > Export Library
  2. In the Format drop-down box, select Zotero RDF
  3. If you're using notes and/or files, check the boxes for "Export Notes" and "Export Files"
  4. Click OK
  5. Save the file to a location like your Desktop
  6. Then make sure to copy that file to a secondary location like AFS, Google Drive, an external hard drive, etc. Please contact CUS if you need help figuring out a good backup strategy that works for you.

Sharing Libraries

Members of a group can copy records from a group folder and add them to their personal Zotero library. To create a group, click on the box icon in the upper lefthand corner of the Zotero interface. This will open a browser and the website. You can then name the group and invite other members to its library of references. Sync with the Zotero server and your Group Libraries should appear on the left side of the window under "My Library." For more information on sharing libraries, check the Zotero Support page for Groups.