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Zotero Reference & Citation Management

Use Zotero to collect, manage and cite your research resources, create collections for research projects, share your data with your collaborators, and generate bibliographies.

Adding PDFs

To add a PDF to Zotero you can:

  • Drag and drop a PDF directly into your Zotero Desktop display
  • Drag and drop a file of PDFs directly into your Zotero Desktop display
  • Add a PDF to an existing citation
    • Drag the PDF on top of the record you want to attach it to
    • Right click the record you wish to add the PDF to
    • In the Drop Down select Add Attachment
    • Browse, select the file, and double click to add

Check mark iconQuick Tip: See the Organizing & Annotating page on this guide to better understand how to read and review PDFs in Zotero.

Adding Items from Databases or the Web

Zotero offers the functionality to add records, items, and citations from the web by utilizing the browser connector.

Note: Make sure you have downloaded the browser connector (instructions are on the homepage of this guide)

  • In your Zotero Library make sure you are in the collection you want to save your items to
  • In your browser click on the icon indicating the file type (a book, file, page, etc.). This will save the item into your Library
    • Note: If you are importing a file, which is multiple items, you will be given the option to select and deselect what you need before importing. This will be true when importing from search results in databases such as CINAHL, PubMed, and more.

Image displaying a book icon for the Zotero plugin within a browser

Image displaying a file icon for the Zotero plugin within a browser

Check mark icon.Quick Tip: Zotero won't work with every webpage. Whether or not Zotero can recognize bibliographic information on a web page depends on the provider, not Zotero. If you don't see an icon to add a citation think about adding it manually or downloading the PDF.

Add an Item Using PMID, DOI, or ISBN


Image displaying the ISBN, DOI, or PMID look up window


You can quickly add items to your library if you already know their ISBN, Digital Object Identifier (DOI), or PubMed ID (PMID).

  • Click the "Add Item by Identifier" button (Image of the Add Image by Identifier button in Zotero, a wand with a plus symbol.) at the top of the center column of the Zotero library
  • Type or paste in the identifier and press Enter.

Adding Items Manually

If you can't easily get a resource into Zotero with the web connector, PDF, or otherwise you can quickly add it manually.

  • Click the green “New Item” (Image of the plus symbol icon in Zotero) button at the top of the center column
  • Select the desired item type from the drop-down menu 
  • You can now manually enter the item's bibliographic information via the right column

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