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Collect, organize, cite and share your research with this free software.

Workshops, Training, and Help

Questions about using Zotero? Schedule an in-person appointment or an online appointment with a member of our Zotero Help Team, or email us at

Brandeis Library offers free workshops for members of the Brandeis community. Sign up for a Zotero workshop, or request a workshop for your group.

Zotero News

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Some of the top questions, settings, and features that our staff encounter when working with Zotero users.

Step-By-Step Help on Zotero's Website

Syncing and Storage

The surest way to store all your Zotero material is to sync your library to your online account.

Zotero syncing has two parts: data syncing and file syncing. Data syncing is free, has no storage limit, and can be used without file syncing.  For file syncing, Zotero provides 300 MB of free storage space, and offers paid plans for more storage space. As of this writing, plans start at $20/year for 2GB of space.

If you don't want to pay for more storage space, there are several other options you can pursue:

1) Limit the type of files you save in your library.  Turn off the option to "Automatically take snapshots when creating items from pages” in the "General" pane of the Zotero Preferences window. You will no longer take HTML snapshots of webpages that you save into Zotero; this can take a significant amount of storage space, and for many researchers is unnecessary.

2) Turn off file syncing.  Turn off the option to "Sync full-text content" in the "Sync" pane of the Zotero Preferences window. Your PDF files will only exist locally on your computer's hard drive; they will not be synced to Zotero’s servers. Your data will still be synced, however, and it won’t count against the 300MB storage limit. 

3) Pursue alternative syncing solutions, such as syncing files to, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.  We would only recommend this option if you are comfortable following the directions on the page describing alternative syncing solutions, and you also back up your Zotero data frequently.

Special note regarding group libraries: Only Zotero File Storage is supported for group libraries, and file syncing in the group library will count against the personal storage space of the group owner. It is possible to turn off group file storage in the group's Library Settings.

Zotero and PDFs

Add Items Using ISBN or DOI Numbers

Quickly add items to your Zotero library without using the browseextension if you already know their ISBN, Digital Object Identifier (DOI), or PubMed ID.  This is particularly helpful for physical books.

Converting Google Docs to Microsoft Word documents

Here are the steps to follow when you're converting a Google Doc that includes Zotero citations into Microsoft Word format (from Zotero Support):

  1. In the Google Doc, use File → Make a Copy… to create a copy of the document.

  2. In the new document, select “Switch word processors…” from the Zotero menu.

  3. Select File → Download as → Microsoft Word (.docx) and save the converted file.

  4. Open the downloaded file in Word and click Refresh in the Zotero plugin to continue using the document.

saving Google docs with Zotero elements to MS Word

Organize Your Library

Tame your Zotero library using these organization features:

Zotero Group Libraries

Start collaborating with fellow researchers, classmates, conference participants, or even the public! 

Zotero for Teaching

Create Annotated Bibliographies

1) Install the "Annotated" version of your preferred citation style to your Zotero Style Manager. (See Zotero's instructions on adding styles.)

  • This is easiest with Chicago and APA, because Zotero has already created annotated styles for Chicago & APA that you just need to add to your Citation Styles list. 
  • For other annotated styles, third parties have created styles to import. Look for/download .csl files, which is the file-type Zotero will recognize as a new citation style.  Eastern Michigan Library has a good list of other annotated styles.
  • You can also create/edit your own style if you feel comfortable doing so. Be sure to create a new copy of a style, if editing, so you don't accidentally overwrite the original style that you need.

2) For all Annotated styles, write your annotation in the "Extra" field in the Info pane for the citation in Zotero.

3) Create a bibliography and choose the annotated style you just installed.

Zotero and MLA Style

Using MLA 8 in Zotero: To make sure your secondary "Container" displays correctly for Journal Articles or other reference items found in databases, use the "Library Catalog" field in the Info pane to record the name of the library database (e.g., JSTOR) where you downloaded the item. It is also recommended to include the DOI, if available, as well as the access date.

Info tab for an individual item in Zotero. Three boxes highlight the DOI, Accessed, and Library Catalog fields.


Zotero and Chicago Style

In Zotero, which version of Chicago Manual of Style should you choose?

There are two main varieties of "Chicago style."  Your instructor might want you to use the "Author-Date" system (more common in the sciences and social sciences) or the "Notes and Bibliography" system (more common in the arts and humanities). Read more on these two systems of citation from the Chicago Manual of Style, and check with your instructor or TA if you have any questions about which is appropriate for your paper.

Choose (full note) from Chicago style Zotero options

If you are using the Author-Date system, choose "Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition (author-date)" from the Zotero document preferences menu.

If you are using the Notes and Bibliography system, you have two options in Zotero: (full note) or (note). Unless instructed otherwise, use the option labeled (full note). This will provide a full note the first time you cite a work, with a shortened note for subsequent citations.  (Read more about short notes from the Chicago Manual of Style.) In some cases, you may want to choose the version labeled (note). This version uses the short citation format every time you cite a work in your paper, and is used for papers where the complete bibliographical information on your sources only appears in the full bibliography at the end.  In either case, you have the option to display citations as footnotes (at the bottom of your page) or endnotes (at the end of your paper).