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  • James Wong

Zeroing in Zotero

With its simple and intuitive interface, Zotero is one of the most commonly used citation management apps in many universities. Whether you are writing an essay, working on your term report or simply shopping around for a suitable citation tool to use, find out about the features that make Zotero the favoured app among undergraduates (and even among some graduate students).

Single Click to Save Citation and Source Material

Zotero is able to save citation details and a copy of the source document simultaneously. All you have to do is to install the Zotero web browser plug-in, Zotero Connector.

Once installed on the web browser, the plug-in will save bibliographic details such as author names, article title, journal and publication information from source documents such as PDFs of journal articles in one convenient click. Unlike citation software such as EndNote, while exporting citations from databases, there is no need to download the PDF files of journal articles separately. This plug-in is available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

Ease of Citing Websites

The Zotero Connector is also able to generate citations of websites with one click by automatically capturing relevant bibliographic information from websites.

What’s more, a snapshot of the webpage is automatically saved. This unique feature is handy when you need to refer the webpage that you intend to cite.

Insert Citations Using Fewer Clicks

Citing sources and creating bibliographies is easier with the Zotero word processor plug-in.

The plug-in is available for Microsoft Word, LibreOffice and Google Docs. With the plug-in, you can generate and insert in-text citations into a Word document directly by typing part of a title or author's name in the citation dialogue box.

Change Citation Format Easily

Need to change the format of in-text citations to exclude the author name?

You can change the format of the in-text citation conveniently, while you are inserting the citation. You can choose to customise the format in various ways such as adding a page number, and additional information as prefix or suffix in the citation. To exclude the author in the in-text citation, simply check the option "Suppress Author" provided in the same dialog box.


If there is one thing that may possibly be a limitation in using Zotero, it's the amount of free file storage space available for each Zotero user - 300MB. However, you can make use of the import and export function to store less frequently used files outside of Zotero.

Zotero does provide annual subscription plans for various storage space sizes if you would like to increase the storage limit. More details can be found here.

Zotero Workshops

Want to pick up tips and shortcuts in using the app? Look out for Zotero workshops offered by NIE Library.

In this hands-on workshop, you can learn how to import references from various platforms such as Google Scholar and journal databases. You can also try your hand at inserting in-text citations, generating reference lists and organising the references.

The first workshop was conducted on 26 Sep 2019.

Check the Library Portal for the workshop schedule for upcoming sessions.

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