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Mat-Su College: Zotero, a free citation manager

An introduction to Zotero, a free, open source citation manager.

Why manually enter references

It is easy to use the Zotero Connector browser plugin to automatically save references as you go along. But sometimes you will want or need to manually save references in Zotero:

  • If you have a couple of sources, and didn't add them to Zotero when you found them, it is often faster to type them in than it is to track each one down in a database just to automatically save them.
  • You might have an item that can't be found online in a way that it can be saved into Zotero.

Example: manually adding a journal article reference

To manually save a journal article, for instance, click the "New item" button above the center column, then choose "Journal Article:"

The Zotero stand-alone client with an arrow pointing to the New Item button, with its menu displayed, and the cursor highlighting the "Journal Article" entry

Now, in the right pane, enter the details of this journal article:

Zotero Client with an arrow pointing to the reference details pane, which has been filled in with most of the details of an article

Adding references for other kinds of publications

The "New Item" menu shows a few common types of references. If you mouse over the "More" submenu, you get a list of almost all the types of items Zotero support:

Zotero Client with the "New Item" menu displayed; the "More" submenu is also displayed, which shows a much longer list of references that Zotero can handle

Example: manually adding a web page reference

Zotero intentionally obscures the option to manually reference a webpage. This is because it is easier and more powerful to reference a web page using the Zotero Connector browser plugin. See the "Automatically enter references" tab for more details.

However, it is possible to manually add a reference for a webpage. First you will need to manually create a reference for some other type of item. Then, in the right pane, choose "Web page" from the "Item Type" field:

Zotero Client with the "Item Type" field menu opened to show the "Web Page" menu item.