What is metadata?

Metadata is data that describes an item. For example, author, title, journal title, date, and the DOI or URL, are common pieces of metadata needed to create a citation.

Verification Checklist

 Do you have an Info Tab with metadata?

WITH metadata:

with Info Tab and metadata


with metadata


​WITHOUT metadata. Can't be used.

no metadata

 If item does not have an Info Tab with metadata, did you create a Parent Item and add the metadata?

retrieve metadata
  • Right click > Retrieve Metadata for PDF or
  • Right click > Create Parent Item > Add metadata


 Do you have all the pieces of metadata?

  • Check against the examples given in the Citation Guide. Examples:
    • Journal articles: Author(s), Article Title, Journal Title, Volume and/or Issue, Date, Page Range, DOI or URL
    • Books: Author, Title, Short Title, (Editor), Place of publication, Publisher, Date
    • Government Reports: Author, Title, Document ID#, Place of Publication, Publisher, Year, Page(s), URL
    • Websites: Author, Title, Organization, Date, URL

 Have you selected the right Item Type?

  • ​Sometimes the Item Type selected in Zotero doesn't produce the correct formatting for your style. For example, in Chicago NB, you would choose the Book Item Type for a government report. See Tips for Fixing Formatting in Chicago NB

 Did you use the Style Preview function to verify against the Citation Guide examples

  • Make necessary edits in Zotero, not in Word

IMPORTANT! Use the Style Preview function to verify formatting

  • style previewHighlight the item
  • Go to Preferences
  • Cite tab
  • Click Style Preview








  • Select the Citation Format in the drop down. Choose:
    • author date for APA, Chicago AD, INFORMS
    • note for Chicago NB
    • numeric for IEEE

style preview citation format

  • Compare with Citation Guide examples, and make necessary edits in Zotero.

Add / Remove Styles

Remove a style:

  1. Go to Preferences > Cite
  2. Highlight the style(s) you don't need
  3. Click the minus button

Add a style:

  1. Go to Preferences > Cite > Get additional style
  2. Search for the style name
  3. Click on the name

Add or subtract styles