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Zotero: More Tips & Tricks

A guide to getting started with Zotero

Import Your PDFs

If you already have PDFs saved on your computer, you do not need to add them all manually to Zotero. 

  • Just drag and drop them into an existing collection or My Library.
  • Highlight all the items you added and right click.  Choose Retrieve Metadata for PDF.
  • Zotero will now search for the citation information for that article. Retrieving metadata for pdfs

Metadata retrieval complete

  1. If retrieving metadata does not work, or the information is incomplete, you will need to manually add the information to the item.
  2. Right click and choose Create Parent Item from Selected Item. Metadata retrieval incomplete
  1. Now, you can fill in the information for the item manually. Choose the correct document type first to make sure the formatting is correct.
  2. Then type in the citation information, such as the title of the article
  3. And the author(s).

Entering metadata manually

Enable PDF Indexing

If you install a few added plug-ins you can allow Zotero to search the full text of every PDF you save using it.

  • Open Zotero
  • Click on the gear symbol in the top bar and select Preferences
  • In the Search tab click on Check for installer and then Install
  • If the button says Check for Installer instead, go on to the next step

Create an Annotated Bibliography

You can use Zotero to create an Annotated APA or Chicago Bibliography.

Step 1: Before you can create an annotated bibliography, you need to download a new style from the Zotero Style Repository. Follow the directions above or go directly
to the Zotero Style Repository.

APA: Download the style "American Psychological Association 6th edition (annotated bibliography with abstract)."

Chicago: Download the style "Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition (note, annotated bibliography)."

Step 2: Open your Zotero library and select the item that you want to annotate. In the "Info" tab on the right-hand pane, write the annotation in the "Extra" field. Repeat this step for each item that you want to include in the annotated bibliography.

Creating an annotated bibliography

Step 3: Open your word processing document and follow the standard process for inserting a citation into your document (see the directions above). When prompted to choose your citation style, select the Annotated Chicago or APA style that you just downloaded.

Adding items by ISBN

Have the book in front of you and want to add it to your Zotero library without having to search for a citation?

If you have a book's ISBN, an online article's DOI or PMID number, just click the magic wand button: "Add item by identifier." Type in the book or article's number, and Zotero will automatically download its information and save it to your library.

Getting New Citation Styles

If you do not see the style you want listed, you will need to click on Cancel and go into Zotero's Preferences. Under Cite select Styles. Click on Get additional Styles...

Get additional styles


Find the style you want and click on the title. Click on Install.

Zotero Style Repository

This style will now be listed when you go back into Word to install the first citation.