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Digital Annotation Tools: Zotero

Introduction: Zotero

Zotero is citation management software that allows you to save, format, and export citations to Word documents, which can make adding footnotes and compiling bibliographies easier and quicker.

This guide aims to provide only the very basics of Zotero: how to download it, save sources in your library, and export them to Word.  But Zotero is easily customizable and contains many more tools than the one's highlighted below. 

For a more detailed look at Zotero feel free to consult any of the following: 

Stanford Libraries Zotero Guide here

Zotero's Quick Start Guide here, or

Harvard Libraries Zotero Guide here.  

Downloading Zotero

Download Zotero in two steps.  First, visit, and follow the download instructions provided there.

In order to get the most use out of Zotero, you'll also want to download a plugin for your browser.  The above screenshot is for Chrome, but Zotero supports plugins for Firefox as well.

The plugin will allow you to more quickly and easily add webpages to your library, which in turn will make adding sources to your library, and compiling your bibliography easier.

Adding Documents to Your Library


Once you have downloaded the Zotero browser plugin, you can add webpages by clicking on the plugin at the top of your browser window.  You can choose which folder you would like to save the webpage under, and add tags, both of which can make organizing and later finding sources in your library easier.

After you save the webpage using the plugin, it will automatically appear in your Zotero library, an application that runs on your computer.

Zotero pulls various information from the sources you save, and allows you to select from a large number of citation styles to format that information--including the Bluebook.

If you're working with an offline source (like a physical book), you can also create a record of it in your library, and use it in your bibliography later.  All fields in the info panel are editable as well.

To change the citation style, click on "Zotero" at the top of your desktop, select "Preferences," and then select "Cite."  "Bluebook Law Review" will be one of the options available, though you may have to click "Get additional styles," to retrieve it.  Once you've selected "Bluebook Law Review" style, any citations you export to Word will appear in Bluebook form. 

Note, however, that Zotero is not always perfect in its formatting, and you should double-check to make sure your citations are correct.

Using Zotero to Format and Add Citations


After you have downloaded Zotero, you will find a new "Zotero" tab in Word.  To export pre-formatted citations from your Zotero library to your word document, click "Zotero" from the top of you Word document, then click "Add/Edit Citation."

You will then be prompted to search or browse within your Zotero library for the citation you would like to add.  Once you've selected the citation you would like to add, press "Enter," and your citation will appear.