Zotero Workshop – Free Citation Management Online

On October 19, I attended a Zotero workshop given by Stephen Klein of the Graduate Center library. Zotero is an online service for collecting and managing sources and citations for all your projects.

If you already know Zotero, there’s an advanced workshop on November 1.

Zotero is free and open-source, so your citations will be available even after you graduate. First register an account on zotero.org. Although Zotero is a cloud service accessible from any computer with a browser, you should download both the software and the “browser connector.”

After the browser connector is installed, a Zotero icon should appear at the top of your browser with your other browser extensions. If it’s not there, search in the extensions section of your browser menu. (On Firefox, at least. “Extensions” might have a different name on your browser.) Go into your Zotero account and create a collections folder with the name of your project. You can make as many folders as you want.

Zotero can save PDFs or any other files from websites you visit. If the online information you find is not in a PDF, Zotero will search online for an available PDF. It can also create PDFs of websites. Manual addition of offline sources is also allowed. You can search for information based on ISBN, DOI, and many other IDs. The limit on free storage is 300 MB, but you can get around this by only saving links to files on Google Docs, Dropbox, or other online workspaces.

Zotero can coordinate with Microsoft Word to create bibliographies, footnotes, or endnotes from your citations. It can automatically change the formatting to fit different styles like MLA or Chicago. You can also export your notes to Word, Excel, and other software. Notes can be written in non-Latin characters and symbols. You can share your citations with any other Zotero user.

Citations are created using metadata (notes) connected to the documents or websites. You can edit this metadata if it’s incorrect. Be sure to double-check the original metadata, because it often has mistakes or is non-existent.

If you’re using a strange computer, you can download the browser connector to add a citation to your account. Just be sure to unlink your account after you’re finished.