Zotero /zˈtɛr/ is a free and open-source reference management software to manage bibliographic data and related research materials (such as PDF files). Notable features include web browser integration, online syncing, generation of in-text citations, footnotes, and bibliographies, as well as integration with the word processors Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Writer, and Google Docs. It is developed as a project by the non-profit Corporation for Digital Scholarship. It was originally created at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

Zotero logo.svg
Zotero 5.0
Developer(s)Corporation for Digital Scholarship, previously Center for History and New Media at George Mason University
Initial releaseOctober 5, 2006; 15 years ago (2006-10-05)[1]
Stable release5.0.96.3 (August 19, 2021; 5 months ago (2021-08-19)[2]) [±]
Written inJavaScript with SQLite backend
Operating systemWindows, macOS, Linux[3]
TypeReference management


The name "Zotero" is loosely derived from the Albanian verb zotëroj, meaning "to master".[5]


Zotero shows an icon in the browser toolbar when a catalog entry or a resource (book, article, thesis) is being viewed on many websites (such as library catalogs or databases like PubMed, Google Scholar, Google Books, Amazon.com, Wikipedia, and publishers' websites). Clicking this icon saves the full reference information to the Zotero library. Such functionality is made possible by 'translators' – short pieces of computer code, or scripts[6] to understand the structure of web pages and to parse them into citations using its internal formats.[7]

Zotero can also save a copy of the webpage, or, in the case of academic articles, a copy of the full text PDF. Users can then add notes, tags, attachments, and their own metadata. Items are organized through a drag-and-drop interface, and can be searched.

Selections of the local reference library data can later be exported as formatted bibliographies. Furthermore, all entries including bibliographic information and user-created rich-text memos of the selected articles can be summarized into an HTML report.[8]

Zotero users can generate citations and bibliographies through word processor plugins, or directly in Zotero, using Citation Style Language styles. The house styles of most academic journals are available in Zotero, and the bibliography can be reformatted with a few clicks. Zotero also allows users to create their own customized citation styles.

Zotero can import and export citations from or to many formats, including Wikipedia Citation Templates,[9] BibTeX, BibLateX, RefWorks, MODS, COinS, Citation Style Language/JSON, refer/BibIX, RIS, TEI, several flavours of RDF, Evernote, and EndNote.

Zotero can associate notes with bibliographic items. It can annotate PDFs and synchronize them with a mobile PDF reader through the Zotfile plugin.[10] These features are planned to be integrated into native Zotero desktop and iOS apps with Version 6.

As of 2014, Zotero supports more than thirty languages.

Zotero has no institutional customer support service, but the Zotero website provides extensive information, including instructional screencasts, troubleshooting tips, a list of known issues, and user forums. Questions and issues raised in the forums are answered quickly, with users and developers suggesting solutions.[11] Many academic institutions provide Zotero tutorials to their members.

Also most citation style and translator codes are written by volunteers from the community and, as open-source scripts, may be used by third party tools as well, for example Wikipedia's 'Citoid' citation generator.[12]

Extensions, plugins, related applicationsEdit


Zotero launched the online bibliography tool ZoteroBib (zbib.org) in May 2018, where users can generate bibliographies online without installing Zotero or creating a Zotero account.[13]


When using the Cita plugin, first released in 2021,[14] Zotero supports automated retrieval and sharing of citation network data from and to external sources, and local citation network visualization.[15] This further integrates Zotero to the Initiative for Open Citations ecosystem, including OpenCitations and Wikidata.[16]


Juris-M is a fork of Zotero with additional features supporting legal research and multilingual citations.[17][18][19] It allows for multilingual citations, and translations and transliterations of citation fields and provides additional support for needs of scholars in fields of law. It was created by Frank Bennett, an associate professor of comparative law at Nagoya University, who continues to maintain it.[20] Amongst the legal citation styles supported are the American Bluebook style, the UK OSCOLA style, and the Canadian McGill style. Many other European and Commonwealth jurisdictions are also supported.[17]

Financial support and awardsEdit

Development of Zotero has been funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, as well as user donations.

Zotero has won awards from PC Magazine, Northwestern University's CiteFest competition, and the American Political Science Association.[21]


The first release of Zotero, 1.0.0b2.r1, was made available in October 2006 as an add-on for the Firefox web browser. Development of Zotero 1.0.x continued until May 2009, when Zotero 1.0.10 was released.

In 2008, Thomson Reuters sued the Commonwealth of Virginia and George Mason University, based on the claim that Zotero's developers had, in violation of the EndNote EULA, reverse-engineered EndNote and provided Zotero with the ability to convert EndNote's proprietary .ens styles into Citation Style Language (CSL) styles.[22] George Mason University responded that they would not renew their site license for EndNote and that "anything created by users of Zotero belongs to those users, and that it should be as easy as possible for Zotero users to move to and from the software as they wish, without friction".[23] The journal Nature editorialized that "the virtues of interoperability and easy data sharing among researchers are worth restating. Imagine if Microsoft Word or Excel files could be opened and saved only in these proprietary formats, for example. It would be impossible for OpenOffice and other such software to read and save these files using open standards—as they can legally do."[24]

The case was dismissed on June 4, 2009 due to a lack of jurisdiction.[25] Although the Virginia Supreme Court granted an appeal to Thomson Reuters in this case on December 18, 2009, the appeal was withdrawn on January 11, 2011.[citation needed]

Zotero 2.0, released in February 2010, added online features such as metadata and file syncing and group libraries, and included a license change from the Educational Community License to GPLv3.[26] Development of Zotero 2.0.x continued until October 2010, when Zotero 2.0.9 was released.

Zotero 2.1, released in March 2011, adds CSL 1.0 support, Firefox 4 compatibility (the minimum is Firefox 3.6), and Zotero Commons, through which materials can be uploaded to the Internet Archive.

Zotero Standalone, first released in January 2011, allowed Zotero to be run as an independent program outside Firefox.[27] Using XULRunner, Zotero Standalone was made available for Windows, Linux, and macOS.[27] Browser connectors were available to use Zotero Standalone with the web browsers Safari and Chrome.[27]

Zotero 3.0, released in January 2012, includes the stable release of Zotero Standalone as well as several new major features, including overhauled Word and LibreOffice[28] integration and duplicate detection. Version 3.0 also introduced the Zotero bookmarklet for iOS[29] browsers, Android browser, Chrome for Android, Firefox mobile, and Opera mobile allowing uses to save reference data to their Zotero library when using mobile devices.[30]

Zotero 4.0, released in April 2013, includes new features such as automatic journal abbreviations, direct downloading of PDFs to Zotero Standalone from the Zotero Firefox plugin, a single save button on the Zotero browser plugin (which combines the functionality of the address bar icon and the “Create Web Page Item from Current Page” button), colored tags, and on-demand file syncing.[31]

Zotero 5.0, released in July 2017, did away with the Firefox plugin, replacing it with a Firefox connector for the new standalone product, which was now simply branded as the Zotero app.[32] This move was the result of Mozilla discontinuing its powerful extension framework on which Zotero for Firefox was based.[33] The Zotero Connectors for Chrome and Safari were also revamped, and given additional features.[34] A point update also introduced a new PDF recognizer, using a Zotero-designed web service that doesn't rely on Google Scholar, to retrieve metadata for PDF files.[35]

In October 2018, automatic PDF file retrieval, until then limited to directly saving from original web sources, was expanded to include open-access PDF files available at Unpaywall,[36] and integration with word processors was extended to include Google Docs through the Firefox and Chrome connectors.[37] In June 2019, as the result of a collaboration with Retraction Watch, Zotero started flagging retracted publications in its app, and warns users who try to cite retracted articles.[38]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "1.0 changelog [Zotero Documentation]". zotero.org. 12 February 2015.
  2. ^ "Zotero Version History". Zotero Documentation.
  3. ^ "Download". zotero.org. Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  4. ^ "Licensing [Zotero Documentation]". zotero.org. 24 May 2012.
  5. ^ Dingemanse, Mark (January 25, 2008). "The etymology of Zotero". The Ideophone. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
  6. ^ "GitHub – zotero/translators: Zotero Translators". GitHub. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  7. ^ "dev:translators". Zotero. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  8. ^ Vanhecke, Thomas E. (July 2008). "Zotero". Journal of the Medical Library Association. 96 (3): 275–76. doi:10.3163/1536-5050.96.3.022. ISSN 1536-5050. PMC 2479046.
  9. ^ "Wikipedia:Citing sources with Zotero". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-06-23.
  10. ^ "ZotFile". zotfile.com.
  11. ^ Trinoskey, Jessica; Brahmi, Frances A.; Gall, Carole (2009). "Zotero: A Product Review". Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries. 6 (3): 224–29. doi:10.1080/15424060903167229. ISSN 1542-4065. S2CID 60791162.
  12. ^ "citoid". MediaWiki. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Introducing ZoteroBib: Perfect bibliographies in minutes". www.zotero.org. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  14. ^ "Release v0.0.1 · diegodlh/zotero-cita · GitHub". GitHub. 6 January 2021. Retrieved 2021-09-22.
  15. ^ de la Hera, Diego (31 May 2021). "Workshop for 'Cita': a Wikidata addon for Zotero". Wikipedia Weekly on YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-11-18. Retrieved 2021-09-22.
  16. ^ Tay, Aaron (2 Aug 2021). "Academic discovery related news that caught my eye". Aaron Tay's Musings about librarianship. Blogger. Retrieved 2021-09-22.
  17. ^ a b "The Jurism Project". juris-m.github.io. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  18. ^ Rydin, Lisa Lilliott. "Research Guides: Juris-M: Introduction". guides.library.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2021-05-08.
  19. ^ Smith, Natalie. "Guides: Referencing and citing: Juris-M". libguides.victoria.ac.nz. Retrieved 2021-05-08.
  20. ^ "Frank Bennett – Euro-Expert". culturalexpertise.net. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  21. ^ Puckett, Jason (2011). Zotero: A Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Educators (1st ed.). Chicago: The Association of College and Research Libraries. p. 3. ISBN 978-0838985892.
  22. ^ "Reuters Says George Mason University Is Handing Out Its Proprietary Software". Courthouse News Service. 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  23. ^ Owens, Trevor (2008-10-29). "Official Statement". Zotero: The Next-Generation Research Tool. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
  24. ^ "Beta blockers?" (PDF). Nature. 455 (7214): 708. 2008-10-09. Bibcode:2008Natur.455..708.. doi:10.1038/455708a. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 18843308. S2CID 4398773. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-05-24. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
  25. ^ Takats, Sean (2009-06-04). "Thomson Reuters Lawsuit Dismissed". The Quintessence of Ham. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
  26. ^ Center for History and New Media (2010-01-26). "changelog [Zotero Documentation]: Changes in 2.0rc1 (January 26, 2010)". Zotero.org. Retrieved 2010-02-27.
  27. ^ a b c Maron, Deborah (2011-02-07). "Zotero Standalone Alpha with Chrome and Safari support". Zotero. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  28. ^ which includes OpenOffice.org
  29. ^ iPad, iPhone
  30. ^ Puckett, Jason (2015-11-05). "GSU Library Research Guides: Zotero: Install Zotero for iPad". Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  31. ^ "Zotero 4.0 changelog". Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  32. ^ "Zotero 5.0". Zotero. 10 July 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  33. ^ "A Unified Zotero Experience". Zotero. 10 July 2017. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  34. ^ "New Features for Chrome and Safari Connectors". Zotero. 10 July 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  35. ^ "Zotero 5.0.36: New PDF features, faster citing in large documents, and more". Zotero. 9 March 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  36. ^ "Improved PDF retrieval with Unpaywall integration". Zotero. 9 October 2018. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  37. ^ "Zotero Comes to Google Docs". Zotero. 19 October 2018. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  38. ^ "Retracted item notifications with Retraction Watch integration". Zotero. 14 June 2019. Retrieved 17 July 2019.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit