Zotero is a browser-based citation management tool developed at George Mason University. Its basic purpose and functionality is similar to RefWorks, but instead of tracking your citations in a web database, it works as a browser extension (designed for Firefox but currently in beta release as a standalone application), saving citations locally on your computer, and making your citations available from any computer by syncing.

See a video on the Zotero site To see a helpful introductory video on Zotero, visit the Zotero website.

PDF Download a quick reference guide to common tasks in Zotero


1. Install through the Zotero website. Zotero downloads as a Firefox extension (a standalone product that works with all browsers is also available as a beta release).

2. Create a Zotero account. After installation, Zotero requires a restart of the browser, after which, you will be brought to the Zotero account creation site. It is strongly recommended you register for a Zotero account to enable syncing and groups.

3. Optimize preferences. After installation, NCSU users should check a few settings for optimized use:

  • Open the Zotero pane by clicking the Zotero link on the bottom of the browser frame.
  • Click the Actions icon (the gear icon) and click Preferences.
  • In the General tab, check the box to "Use Zotero for downloaded RIS/Refer files". (Some sources export citations as RIS files. With this option set, Zotero can more easily find these exports.)
  • In the Sync tab, enter your Zotero username and password and check the "Sync Automatically" box.
  • Also in the Sync tab, in the File Syncing area, check the box to "Sync Attachment Files in My Library Using" and select Zotero from the drop-down menu (unless you know what WebDAV is and are certain you're using it). For more information on storage limits, click the "About File Syncing" link in the Sync preferences.
  • In the Advanced tab, near the bottom, is box for OpenURL preferences. Change the resolver link to http://findtext.lib.ncsu.edu/ (This will make it easier to get back to saved articles when you click Locate: Library Lookup.) See more information.

Some common questions:

Training Workshops

In-person training workshops for Zotero are offered by the Libraries in conjunction with the Instructional Services unit of DELTA. Sessions are held in the ITTC Computer Labs (2nd Floor, East Wing, D. H. Hill Library). Register for sessions online through DELTA.

Summer 2011 hands-on sessions:

Several citation management sessions are also available through the Graduate Student Workshop series.

Here is a screenshot of Zotero in use. The Zotero pane is open along the bottom of the browser screen, where you can access your folders and citations. You can open and close the Zotero pane while working. Notice the small blue book icon in the URL bar. Clicking that icon adds the book to Zotero.

Zotero screenshot


Want to know more about Zotero? Contact Mohan Ramaswamy , view the video tutorials or read other help on the Zotero site.