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Zotero Citation Management: Collecting Sources

Configuring Zotero Preferences

Before you begin collecting sources, you'll want to configure your Zotero Preferences. Things may look a little bit different with newer versions but the ideas are all the same!

  • Click on the Actions icon (looks like a gear) and click on the Sync tab to login using your Zotero username and password.

Zotero Actions icon

  • Click the "Sync automatically" checkbox to have Zotero automatically sync up your Zotero library with your Zotero.org account. This will allow you to access your Zotero library from any computer with an internet connection.

login to your Zotero account in Preferences to sync resource automatically

  • Click on the General tab to configure your 'User Interface' settings. This will determine how Zotero will appear each time it's used.
    You can choose to have Zotero to appear at the bottom of your browser screen or in a separate tab, depending on how you like to work.
    You can also customize how you'd like the Zotero icon to appear in your system tray (lower right corner) as well as the font size.
  • Under the 'Miscellaneous' heading, be sure that 'Automatically check for updated translators' is selected.
  • You may also want to have Zotero 'automatically attach associated PDFs and other files when saving items.' This options is selected by default but you should be sure to make certain it is selected. Click the OK button in order to save any updated preferences before moving on to a different Preferences area.

General Zotero Preferences

Collecting Sources

Books and Articles

Zotero senses when you are looking at an article in a subscription database, the New York Times, a book in the library catalogue or at Amazon and allows you to add it to your library with just one click.

To save references to your library, open your Zotero pane (lower right side of the web browser) and look in the address bar for the item's "Save to Zotero" icon in the upper right. The icon image will change from a book, newspaper, article page, or folder depending on the type of resource you are viewing.

Books:
Since Zotero has written meta-data translators for sites like Amazon.com, you can look for the book icon at the upper right side of the address bar and click the icon to save the reference to your library.

saving books from Amazon into your Zotero library
 

Books in the Library's catalogue:

adding a book from the library catalogue to your Zotero library

Articles:
Search results in databases such as ProQuest Research Library, Academic Search Complete, or JSTOR will include a folder icon in the upper right side of the address bar. Click on the folder in order to choose the search result item(s) (in this case articles) that you would like to save.

 
saving multiple sources from a database into your Zotero library

The citations and any additional meta-data from the items you are selecting will automatically be brought into your Zotero library, where you can edit all of the attributes, add tags, notes, child items, and create relationships between your resources.

Zotero book button icon


Collecting Sources: Other Websites

If a particular website does not have Zotero translators written to interpret its metadata, try installing Readability, a free Firefox add-on that strips away unnecessary web content to let you focus on the text. According to a recent ProfHacker article, installing the Readability app makes sites that weren't interpreted by Zotero able to be captured via the Zotero icon in the address bar.

Of course, you can still manually add the reference to your library using these steps:

Click the Zotero button at the bottom right of your browser to access your Zotero pane. Click the "Create New Item from Current Page" button (to the right of the green plus sign) to save a link to the page. This will save a new web page item to your library. You can add information about the author, etc., if you'd like.

This will also attach a snapshot of the page to the citation. Taking a snapshot saves a copy of the page to your computer as it appears at the time the page is being capture. This includes the page's text and images, so if the page is removed later, or if you're offline, you'll still be able to view your copy.

The "Create Item from Current Page" icon is circled below.
collecting references from other websites

Portable Zotero

You can expand your Zotero storage by using Zotero on a flash drive. Download Portable Firefox and install the Zotero add-on.

  • Click on the Actions gear and login to your account.
  • Click on the Advanced tab and change the storage location to Custom.
  • The "Select a Zotero Data Directory" pop-up will appear. Once you select the directory, Zotero will restart Portable Firefox with the contents of your library.

For more information, take a look at Zotero's syncing and Portable Firefox documentation.

Save resources to your flashdrive

Subject Guide

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Bill Kelm
Contact:
Mark O. Hatfield Library
Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem, OR 97301
503-375-5332
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