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Researching Careers in the Health Sciences: Organizing & Managing

Created for HNFE 1114 and ALS 2984

What is Zotero?

Citation managers allow you to build your own database of sources - articles, books, websites, and more. They provide tools that simplify in-text citations and bibliography creation for research papers. Citation managers may also include collaborative options like the ability to share all or parts of your citation database with others.

Zotero is a free citation manager available from, and it exists as a desktop version, an online version, and a browser extension. It's great at collecting citation information from webpages as well as from databases, and you can create groups to share citations with others. It also has a plug-in that allows you to cite sources in MS Word, LibreOffice, and Google Docs. 

Check out the tutorial and other information below to learn how to use Zotero. It's best to spend some time getting familiar with the software before you need to use it rather than trying to figure out how to use it when you're on a tight deadline. 

Getting Started with Zotero

Screenshot of Zotero tutorial

Prefer slides?

If you prefer following along with slides rather than completing a tutorial, check out the presentation below. Step-by-step screenshots are provided to show you the basics of Zotero. 

Using Zotero for group projects

When you're working on a group project, Zotero can make sharing sources and citing references easy. Planning ahead can make the process go smoothly. Here are some tips for using Zotero for group projects:

  • Create a shared group library for your project. One person will need to "own" the group library and invite your group members to it. Be sure to invite them using the email address they used to sign up with Zotero. 
  • All group members can add references to the group library. 
  • When you're writing the paper, assign one group member to be responsible for adding citations to a shared document. Google docs makes it easy to write something as a group, but not all group members will be able to add references with Zotero and have them appear in a single bibliography. 
  • The other group members can help check the final version for the correctness of the citations. 

Can I import references from a reference list?

If you have a list of references in a document and would like to get them into Zotero, you can use to convert the references into a file that can be imported into Zotero. Just follow the directions on the site and save the references to BibTeX format. Download the file, and then in Zotero, go to File -- Import -- A file (BibTeX, RIS, Zotero RDF, etc.). Select the file from your downloads and click Open. The reference will be added to your Zotero library. Remember to check over the references after they've been added to Zotero to make sure they're correct. 

For further support

Have questions about Zotero? Feel free to contact your Engineering Education Librarian, Lisa Becksford, at Please included a detailed description of the problem you're experiencing, as well as any screenshots of the error. You can also sign up here (first select your preferred location, either virtual or at Newman Library) for a virtual or in-person consultation to talk through your questions. 

Zotero is not the only citation manager available; for information about and support for EndNote and Mendeley, check out the Libraries' citation management guide

If you need immediate help, a good option is to Google the name of the error message or the problem you're experiencing - oftentimes, you can find information on a Zotero help forum or on another library's help pages.