The interface, collections, tags, notes, duplicates, search

The Zotero Interface

  • The left pane lists your Librar(ies) organized by Collections (folders), Duplicate Items, Unfiled Items, and Trash.

  • The middle pane lists your items (citations with their attached files, notes, etc.)

  • The right pane provides details about an individual item once you select it in the center column, and the ability to edit any of them.

Zotero layout

Collections and Items in Them

About collections

Zotero add collection
  • Collections are like playlists. Use them to organize your items by topic, project, class, etc.

  • To create a new collection, click on the small folder icon with a green plus sign.
  • To make Subcollections, right click > New Subcollection
  • You can delete Collections without deleting the items within them.

Adding, moving, removing, deleting items

  • To ADD items to a collection, drag and drop them into the collection.
    • Items can be in more than one collection at a time. You are not creating duplicates.
  • To MOVE items between collections, hold down Cmd (Mac) or Shift (Windows/Linux) and drag them to the new collection.  
  • To REMOVE an item from a collection
    • Delete key OR
    • Right click > Remove Item from Collection
  • To DELETE an item from a collection
    • Right click > Move Item to Trash
  • To DELETE an item from your library completely
    • From the Trash folder > Right click > Delete item

Duplicate Items

Zotero duplicate items

Before you start citing in Word, merge your duplicates. This will help prevent issues such as linking to different items in Zotero for the same source.

  1. Click Duplicate Items in the left pane
  2. Click the Title Header to sort by title
  3. Select an item in the center pane. The potential duplicates will be highlighted.
  4. Choose the item that seems to have the most complete and accurate information. You can choose one item to be the "master."
  5. You can also select the best version of a field to be in the master item by using the icons to the right of each field. 
  6. Click the Merge button

    merge duplicated


Zotero trash

Is like your Recycle Bin where deleted items stay until you choose to empty your trash and delete them permanently. It does use some storage space. You can change the number of days before the trash is automatically deleted.

Go to General tab > Miscellaneous > change the number of days

trash setting


You can add some useful columns such as "Date Added" or "Date Modified"

  • Right click in the header
  • Select the column you want to add from the dropdown. Note the option, "More Columns"

Columns are sortable.Click the column header. 

Info Tab

The citation information (metadata) is only as complete and correct as initially provided from the database, catalog, publisher, or website.

Notes Tab

  1. Select item in your library that you want to add a note to
  2. In the right-hand pane, click Notes > Add 
  3. Type in the text editor that opens in the right pane, or edit in a separate window.
  4. Your note will automatically be added to the item.

Zotero add notes


Zotero add notes under


Copy/paste text from a website:Zotero save website text

  1. Select the text you want to copy
  2. Right click
  3. Select "Save to Zotero"



See all of your notes in a Collection:

  1. Put your cursor in the center pane
  2. Press the Shift and (+) keys 
  3. That will expand all items and display all attachments

Tags Tab

About tags:

  • Are similar to, but not the same as Collections
  • Tags are words or phrases that you can apply to individual items
  • You can search for items by tag
  • Sometimes tags are automatically created when you save an item in Zotero

To add a tag:

  • Select the item(s) you want to apply the tag to
  • Click the Tags tab in the right panel
  • Click the Add button
  • Select an existing tag, or enter a custom word or phrase like "to read"

Zotero add tag

Related Tab

Examples of related items:

  • Connect book chapters to their parent volume
  • Connect book reviews to the book

To create a relationship between one or more items:

  1. Select an item in the center pane
  2. Go to the Related tab in the right pane
  3. Click the Add button
  4. Select one or more items from the same library
  5. Click OK
  6. The selected items will now show up as related items in the Related tab, and clicking an item will take you straight to that item.

    Zotero related items

Refresh Button

To force immediate syncing, use the Refresh button.

Zotero refresh button