Zotero is a smart li-le cookie. First and foremost it allows you to store references for
the informa9on you ﬁnd online, in books, videos etc. It also allows you to organise
and relate these references. Zotero then makes it easy to choose an appropriate
referencing style from a wide variety and provides a few methods for puAng them
into your document.
Zotero simpliﬁes the process of storing reference informa9on. This extension to
Firefox sits quietly in the corner of your browser but provides a li-le reference icon to
the right of the source's web address. This icon varies depending on the type of
Clicking on a reference icon 'clips' the essen9al reference informa9on from the
source. The Zotero interface pops up and displays the informa9on collected from the
resource. This informa9on can be changed and added to as required.
The web is considered a 'vola9le' source of informa9on as it frequently changes.
Informa9on is usually moved or deleted as 9me marches on. Zotero helps to short
circuit this problem by taking 'snapshots' of web pages that you collect informa9on
from. That way, the informa9on is in tact when the 9me comes to reference it.
As well as the ability to grab informa9on from pages, Zotero also oﬀers a number of
op9ons for manually adding informa9on sources and references and these are
accessible from the main Zotero interface.
Zotero provides a number of methods for organising your references. At the top of
this organisa9on system sits Zoteros 'collec9ons'. Consider these organisers as folders
which you can drop your references into. You could logically then have a collec9on for
each piece of research you were doing. A notes facility is available to help in
iden9fying a par9cular part of the reference source or provide a helpful reminder as
to what was relevant about it. In addi9on Zotero operates a tagging system much like
delicious whereby you can look at reference sources based on the tags that you
assigned them. It is also possible to relate reference sources to one another via the
‘related’ op9on for each reference source.
It is possible to add share collec9ons with other users and this involves crea9ng a
group. In order to do this you will need to create your own Zotero account aNer
which you can set up groups and invite other users to join your group.
We touched on the notes feature when discussing how Zotero enables the
organisa9on of reference sources that you collect. Zotero also provides the facility to
highlight and annotate web pages that it has taken a ‘snapshot’ of. These features are
very powerful as they allow you to mark up and annotate the relevant parts of the
reference source so that when the 9me comes to use it, you don’t have to mess
around trying to remember which bits were important and which bits you wanted to
Zotero’s group based sharing can be a li-le bit of a hassle. Zotero’s mechanism for
adding references into documents on the other hand is incredibly easy as it boils
down to ‘drag and drop’ meaning that when I want to share a reference it is far easier
for me to ﬁre up my email and drop the references into a message.
Even though Zotero provides drag and drop simplicity and easy export of references
they’ve also gone to the trouble of developing an add‐in tool for MicrosoN Word and
Open Oﬃce. This is integrated with the Zotero extension for Firefox meaning that
whatever you collected via the extension will be available via the add‐in. Be sure to
set up the appropriate reference format in the Zotero extension as the Word
Processor add‐in will use whichever formaAng style was set in the extension.