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Alternative Citation Managers: Zotero

This guide will assist students and faculty at SPC with switching from RefWorks to Zotero or Mendeley citation managers.


Zotero is a easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. Zotero is a Firefox add-on. Easy to use. Lives in your web browser where you do your work. It's FREE.

Watch this tutorial on how to use Zotero created by SPC tutors.

What can you do with Zotero?

  • Create and manage citations of books, articles, videos, etc from the web, databases and the Rhodes Library Catalogue
  • Add searchable notes and tags to citations
  • Annotate and organise research results
  • Save information about a reference, including author, title and publication details
  • Attach files, links, notes and PDFs to records
  • tag and sort records
  • Create bibliographies in preferred output style
  • Manage in-text citations in Microsoft Word
  • View records in My Library when offline
  • Easily share references with others

Pros and Cons of Zotero


  • Great for importing records for non-traditional references, like wikis and websites.
  • Helps to organize web screenshots and PDFs. You can make PDFs searchable by choosing to index them in the preferences menu. 
  • Easily imports records from many of the resources you already use.
  • The program lives where you already do most of your research, in the browser.
  • Imports records from several major databases that won't work with EndNote & Mendeley, including Factiva, USPTO, Espacenet, & FreePatentsOnline.
  • It's user-friendly.
  • Easily retrieves PDF metadata, like title and author information.
  • Synchronizes collections among multiple computers & backs up data.
  • Offers option to create user profiles and groups, so you can share your collection.
  • Detects proxy servers automatically, making off-campus access to library databases easier.


  • Need to pay for extra storage space.

Zotero and Devices

Zandy is an Android application for working with a Zotero library on your Android device (for now, it needs to be running Android 2.2 or later). The goal is to do everything that Zotero itself can do, but for now we’re settling for viewing, modifying, adding references, viewing and modifying notes, and viewing attachments.

Zotero Bookmarklet is a bookmark you add to your browser to save the page you are reading to your Zotero library. The process for installing and using the Zotero bookmarklet varies depending on the browser you are using.

Scanner For Zotero brings Zotero's magic wand tool out into the physical world. Scan the ISBN barcode on any book, and Scanner For Zotero will fetch that item's bibliographic information from the web and allow you to add it to your Zotero library.

NOTE: These apps may be free, or you may have to purchase them.

Using Zotero with Browsers

Internet Explorer

If you're using Internet Explorer or a mobile browser, you can still save items to your Zotero library. A free Zotero account is required.

The Zotero Bookmarklet works with all desktop browsers and most mobile browsers (including Safari for iPad and the Android browser).

Visit the Zotero Bookmarklet page for installation instructions for your particular browser or device. You won't have to install any software -- just the bookmarklet

Use Google Docs with Zotero

Zotero works well with Word and OpenOffice, but you can also use it with Google Docs.

To insert a Zotero reference in Google Docs, use keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Open your Google Doc and your Zotero library.
  2. In your Zotero window, click on the record you want to cite. 
    1. To copy an end-of-document reference, use keyboard shortcut: CTRL+ALT+C. 
    2. To copy an in-text citation, use keyboard shortcut: CTRL+ALT+A.
  3. Paste it into your Google Doc.
  4. To add a bibliography at the end of your document, in Zotero, select the citations you used, right-click, select “Create Bibliography from Selected Items,” and choose “Export to Clipboard.” Then paste into Google Docs.