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Zotero citation management: Tips & tricks

Zotero mobile

You don't need any apps to work with the website version of Zotero on your mobile device - simply go to the Zotero website, log in to your Zotero account via your mobile browser and choose the My Library tab.

NOTE: Your free Zotero online storage limit is 300MB ((you can upgrade storage if required)

Zotero mobile apps:

  • Zandy -- an Android app that allows you to view, add, and edit items online, as well as work with your Zotero library offline
  • ZotPad -- an iPad/iPhone app that allows you to integrate Zotero with your file storage server space (such as Dropbox) and connect to third-party PDF annotating software
  • Zotfile Reader -- is a plug-in that works with iPads and Android tablets to pull annotations from PDF files

I have bibliographies in Microsoft Word documents, PDFs, and other text files. Can I import them into my Zotero library?
See here for possible solutions... as well as this one here using

Zotero tab does not appear in your Word Processor

If the Zotero tab does not appear in Word, consult and follow the instructions [here]. Alternatively, follow the audio-visual screen-cast instructions [here].

If you work with a MAC and the Zotero plugin add-on is missing in MS Word, follow the instructions [here]. Importantly, note that popular word processor programs, such as Apple Pages and WPS don’t have any way for Zotero to be able to read the document, insert and edit text, or embed citation data. For more details, check out this [thread].

How to move Zotero Citations between Google Docs, Word, and LibreOffice
See advice [here]

Using Zotero for Legal Citations

Note that Zotero has only limited support for creating citations for US and UK legal cases and legislation. Support for legal citations from other jurisdictions is even more limited. For legal scholars or researchers making heavy use of legal sources, we recommend considering Juris-M, a community-driven unofficial version of Zotero specifically designed for compliance with legal citation requirements. 

For more information concerning legal citations using OSCOLA and Zotero, see

Backing Up Your Zotero Library

We strongly recommend that you regularly back up your Zotero library.

If you want to back up your Zotero data specifically, locate your Zotero data, close Zotero, and copy your data directory (the entire directory, including storage and the other subdirectories) to a backup location, preferably on another storage device. As with all important data, it is a good idea to back up your Zotero data frequently.

Warning: Zotero lets you export your Zotero library as a Zotero RDF file. However, exporting and importing your library via RDF won't result in an exact copy of your library, and it isn't recommended as a backup strategy.

 [Click me] for general advice and specific instructions!


Apple has discontinued support for full-featured extensions such as the Zotero Connector in Safari 12. For now, we recommend using the Zotero Connector for Firefox or Chrome for the best experience.

Zotero + RefWorks

Migrating RefWorks to Zotero

Approach 1: Migration of all your RefWorks references to Zotero in one go:

  1. Log in to your RefWorks account
  2. Ensure you have 'All References’ displayed in the ‘References’ location
  3. From the top menu, select References > Export
  4. In the pop-up menu that appears, ensure that ‘All in List’ is selected and that the Export Format is set to ‘Bibliographic Software (EndNote, Reference Manager, ProCite)’.
  5. When ready, click the ‘ExportReferences’ button which appears in the bottom right of the pop-up.
  6. When the export is complete you will see a pop-up in the bottom right of your screen.You may receive a download prompt or you can use this pop-up to save a copy of the file to your computer
  7. Now, open Zotero Standalone
  8. Select Import from the File menu
  9. Zotero will import the citations into a new folder with the same name as the file (without the ".ris" extension). References can be moved easily to another folder if you wish. 

NOTE 1: RefWorks provides reference exports as.txt files. You may find that if you click to save the file it instead opens in your browser, showing the plain text of your reference export file. If this happens, you can just use the ‘File’ menu of your browser to save a copy of the page asa.txt file to your computer.

NOTE 2: We recommend that you check through your references to ensure no details have been lost during the export process. You can use Zotero Desktop to correct any errors.

Approach 2: Maintain your RefWorks folder structure when migrating to Zotero:

  1. Log in to your  RefWorks account
  2. Open the first folder you wish to migrate
  3. In the top left, select References > Export
  4. In the pop-up menu that appears, ensure that 'All in List' is selected and that the Export Format is set to 'Bibliographic Software (EndNote, Reference Manager, ProCite)'.
  5. When ready, click the 'Export References' button that appears in the bottom right of the pop-up and then safe the file to your computer.  NOTE: You will be saving an export file for every RefWorks folder you intend to migrate, and therefore to avoid confusion we would advise you to pick easily recognisable file names for each export file!
  6. When done, open Zotero
  7. Make sure you are in My Library, then click on the File > Import
  8. Browse to where you saved all your .txt files from RefWorks and choose the first folder (you can't import more than 1 file at time)
  9. Zotero will automatically create a folder with the name of your file and import the references into that folder...  NOTE: if you need to create a new collection, click on the folder icon

NOTE: You will need to repeat steps 1 - 9 for each RefWorks folder you intend to migrate to Zotero

NOTE: Attachments in RefWorks will not be exported into Zotero. You will need to save these individually to your computer and then import them into Zotero by dragging the PDF to the appropriate citation or adding it as an attachment to the citation!