Citation Management with Zotero

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

The Zotero Interface

  • The left pane lists your Collections (folders)

  • The middle pane lists your items (citations, files, etc.)

  • The right pane provides details about an individual item once you select it in the center column

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 within collections

  • 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 in a collection
    • Right click > Move Item to Trash

Duplicate Items

Zotero duplicate items

Zotero can help you identify possible duplicates and allow you to merge them. This will prevent issues when citing in Word.

  1. Merge rather than delete duplicates, so that you don't accidentally delete a linked citation in Word.
  2. Click Duplicate Items in the left pane
  3. Select an item in the center pane. The potential duplicates will automatically get selected.
  4. Click the Merge button in the right pane.
  5. If the fields don't match completely, you can choose one item to be the "master"

    Zotero merge duplicates



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.


  • Columns are sortable
  • You can add some useful columns such as "Date Added" or "Date Modified"
    • Click the column icon
    • Select the column header you want

Zotero add new column

Zotero column heading

Locate Menu

Different ways to access files and to look up items online. 

1. Select item in center pane

2. Click green Locate arrow, and choose the action

Zotero locate menu

Info Tab

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

Notes tab

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