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This tab includes tips and tricks that can help you effectively organize your references.

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

Organizing Content

Notes, Tags, and Related

To add personal notes and observations, click on the record. In the pane on the right, you can add notes, tags, and related records.

Notes and tags are searchable, but will not appear when creating a bibliography.

  • Notes are good for capturing key quotations and text-specific notes on why an article is helpful
  • Tags are keywords describing the article
  • Related includes links to other Zotero records


All content in a Zotero library lives in the main folder title "My Library." To organize records around a course or assignment, create additional folders.

Create a folder by clicking on the folder icon in the upper left hand corner of the Zotero interface.

To delete a folder and its contents, right-click the folder and click "Delete Collection and Items."

Deleting the folder will not delete records from your library.

Saved Searches

Saved searches will dynamically update as new records are added to Zotero. Click on the magnifying glass icon to create a new search. Enter search term(s) and click "Search." Then click "Save Search." As new records are added to Zotero that match the search criteria, the new records will appear in the save search results.

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.

Adding Additional Styles to Zotero

Adapted from a LibGuide by Jason Puckett for Georgia State University Library.

Zotero installs with many styles, including those commonly used in academic literature (APA, Chicago, MLA). But if you can't find the style you need, you may be able to download it from the Style Repository.

To install a style:

  1. Go to the Zotero Style Repository page.
  2. Search for the name of the style you need.
  3. Download the style (right-click the Install link and choose Save As).
  4. Open Zotero preferences. Click Cite, then Styles, then the "+" button, and select the style you downloaded (a .CSL file).

The new style will appear in Zotero's style lists.

Zotfile - Advanced PDF Management

Zotfile is a Zotero plugin to manage your attachments, it can:

  • Automatically rename attached PDFs (or other files)
  • Sync PDFs from your Zotero library to your (mobile) PDF reader (e.g. an iPad, Android tablet, etc.)
  • Extract annotations from PDF files.

Find out more here:

Special Formating in Bibliographies

In certain disciplines like Chemistry, titles are likely to include special formatting like subscripts, superscripts, and italics.

To get special formatting to appear in a bibliography:

  • Manually add HTML formatting tags around the text in Zotero
    • Subscript: <sub></sub>
    • Superscript:<sup></sup>
    • Italics: <i></i>
  • In Zotero, you will see the HTML tags, but when you create a bibliography, the special formatting should come through correctly.

Importing Existing Bibliographies into Zotero

It is possible to import a pre-existing bibliography into Zotero, but it takes some work.

Use a third party tool, like AnyStyle, to extract the data from formatted a bibliography. AnyStyle is an online bibliography parser that can be trained for improved results.

  1. On AnyStyle > Paste the bibliography in the Parse box (Note: There must be one citation per line, this may require data cleanup in advance) > Click the Parse button.
  2. Review each reference > To correct mistakes made by the parser, select a component and click the Assign label button (Note: you can select multiple components by holding down the command or control key.)
  3. Under Save, click on the BibTex button to export.
  4. Open Zotero > File > Import > export.bib.