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Research Guides


Note: new version of Zotero

In the Summer of 2017, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, developers of Zotero, announced the release of Zotero 5.0. Zotero 5.0 represents:

"the next major version of Zotero and the biggest upgrade in Zotero’s history. Zotero 5.0 brings many new features, as well as a huge number of changes under the hood to improve Zotero’s responsiveness and stability and lay the groundwork for other big developments coming soon."

As of November 2017, documentation for the new version is still under development. Note that this guide includes screenshots of Zotero 4.0 and may reference functionality that has since changed - we'll continue to update the guide as new information becomes available.

What is Zotero?

Zotero (pronounced "zoh-TAIR-oh") is a free research tool created to help collect, organize, share, and cite sources.

Zotero was developed primarily as a Firefox plugin. It has since been integrated with Chrome, Opera, and Internet Explorer browsers, and made available as a standalone software. Browser integration makes it easy to save and annotate sources while searching online. Zotero was developed at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

What Does Zotero Do?

Zotero's features include:

  • Web-browser integration: the ability to add sources detected when you are viewing diverse sources (including websites, library catalogs, and PDFs) online, using plugins for Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Chrome. In addition to storing a link to the source, Zotero will store files, notes, and attachments, as well as snapshots of web pages.
  • Multiple methods for organizing sources: sort sources into collections and subcollections ... but also add tags that will let you group items outside of the folder structures. More advanced users might create "smart collections" that automatically populate via saved searches as sources are added to your library.
  • Indexed source lists: Zotero will index the full-text content of your sources, allowing you to search across all of the items in your source library.
  • Citation generation: with thousands of publication formats available, Zotero lets you customize the style of your citations.
  • Word and Open Office integration: allows for citation lists to be created within these word processors via plugins.
  • Syncing across devices: available as a standalone, downloadable program and as a web-based system, Zotero allows you to sync your sources across multiple computers and transfer your library to new devices.
  • Sharing: Zotero groups allow the option of either private or public libraries to be shared across groups. As an open-source  product, Zotero provides a home for researchers to publish their resource lists and to find others in their discipline or who share interests. 

Who Can Use Zotero?

Freely available, Zotero can be used by anyone without subscription or membership fees. You will need to register for an account to begin using the tool.

300 MB of storage are included with the free account; additional storage may be purchased.


Many thanks to librarians at Syracuse, Johns Hopkins, and Georgia State, who generously granted permission to copy and adapt their Zotero LibGuides.