Azdren's Zotero Guide

last updated: 11/20/22

Disclaimer: This is a work-in-progress, there may be errors. If you find a flaw, please let me know via email.

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To download the latest version of Zotero, visit

To get the most out of the Zotero software, you need to set up what they call a Resolver. You don’t need the resolver, but having it set up allows Zotero to communicate with your library. This allows it to automatically retrieve article files based on you saved references. 

To set up the resolver, open Zotero. At the top of the program, in the main menu, click on: Edit > Preferences > Advanced.

Each university has a unique Zotero resolver. WSU’s resolver is below:

Your Library is what contains everything, and it can be organized into Collections. Clicking on My Library will show you all of your files and citations from all Collections.

Create new Collections for each project. Clicking on each Collection will show you the files associated with only that collection. An item removed from a collection will remain in your library, unless you specified that you want to ‘move file to trash’.

One you add a PDF of an academic paper to your Zotero collection, Zotero will work to automatically create a file containing the meta-data for the PDF. Though, Zotero will allow you to create a meta-data file, and using your library resolver, will retrieve the PDF automatically if it can find the paper in the library.

Make sure to install the Zotero extension in your browser. If you are on a website that contains an academic paper, often you will be able to click on the Zotero icon on the browser, and the academic paper and meta-data will be automatically downloaded to your Zotero library.

If you have the DOI, or ISBN number, you can click the “wand” button at the top, which will allow you to add a file by identifier.

Adding a reference from Zotero into Word

To get the most out of Zotero, make sure that the Zotero Word plugin is installed. You should notice a “Zotero” tab in Word.

While you are writing your paper, the best practice is to add a citation using the Zotero tab. When you need to add a new citation, click on the “Add/Edit Citation” button. Once you are done writing your paper, you can then click on “Add/Edit Bibliography.” Zotero will collect all of your citations and arrange them for you. This way, if you add or delete any sentences containing any particular citations, Zotero will automatically add or include that reference in your Bibliography.

You can also manually add a reference from Zotero into Word. The advantage of this is that Zotero automatically formats your citation. You can specify to Zotero what reference style you are using. To do this, simply drag-and-drop the file (containing the meta-data) from Zotero into Word.

If you want to add just the in-text citation, hold the ‘shift’ key while dragging-and-dropping the file from Zotero into Word.

Useful Tips and Tricks

When you are saving files where you have used Zotero to create your bibliography, the files will contain embedded data with hyperlinked text. You should remove this connection before sharing the paper, by clicking “Unlink Citations” in the Zotero tab in Word.

Zotero allows you to collect your annotations of PDFs (the highlighted text in a paper and saving the file). If you right-click on the PDF file in Zotero, you can click on “Add Note from Annotation” to generate the file. This allows you to easily gather and keep track of your highlights, making copying/pasting text easy.

You can share collections, or your whole library with other academics. Right-click on a collection, and click on “export collection.” On the other hand, click on File > Import, to import another collection.

Finally, just know that Zotero has been integrated with many other academic resources, such as

Backing up and Restoring Zotero has 300MB of free storage. This is ideal if you do not attach your PDF files to Zotero. But if you want, you can also allow Zotero to manage your PDFs. Zotero organizes your folder, but also uploads your library to their own servers. has  more storage for a fee. This allows you to easily view your library remotely from their website, or even restore your library from the Zotero servers.

Alternatively, you can set your Zotero library to organize the files within an online file storage system, such as Google Drive.

Note that you can export your entire library by clicking File > Export Library. Or, you can copy the whole Zotero folder on your

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