Skip to Main Content
St George's University of London Logo

Zotero Reference Manager

This guide explains how to use Zotero, a free reference manager, to save, organise and cite your readings and resources.


File:Zotero logo.svg - Wikipedia

Zotero is a free reference management tool that allows you to conveniently save, edit and share references from a single library. It also allows you to centralise notes and annotations, as well as create and export citations and bibliographies.

Zotero can be downloaded here. The latest version, Zotero 6, comes with an in-built PDF viewer, allowing you to read PDFs in app and add notes and annotations that can be accessed from anywhere. A web version is also available, though this guide focuses mainly on the desktop version.

Setting Up

To start using Zotero on SGUL computers:

  1. Click start in the bottom left of your desktop
  2. Search for and open "Software Center"
  3. In Software Center, search for "Zotero" using the search bar in the top right
  4. Click on Zotero and click install
  5. Done! Zotero is ready to use.

To use Zotero on your own device:

  1. Go to the Zotero download page
  2. Click "Download" or select an alternative operating system
  3. Run the installer and follow the steps included
  4. Done! Zotero is ready to use.

Creating an account and syncing references

Without a Zotero account, all references will be saved locally to the device your are using at that time. With a free Zotero account, you can sync your library across devices, allowing access to your references from anywhere. This is recommended, especially if you use Zotero in the library and might be using many different computers!

Once you have set up a Zotero account, sync your library by:

  1. Opening Edit -> Preferences in the Zotero desktop app
  2. Enter your Zotero user name and password and click "Set up syncing"
  3. Ensure "Sync Automatically", "Sync full-text content" and "Sync attachment files in My Library using Zotero" are checked. This will allow you to retrieve files, including PDFs and notes, on any computer you use Zotero with.

  1. Click "Ok" to exit.
  2. In the top-right hand corner of Zotero, click the green circular arrow. Your library will be uploaded to the server.

Use the circular green arrow icon to sync your library.

  1. When using Zotero on a new computer, set up syncing as shown above and click the green circular arrow; this will download your library to the new device - it may take a while if you have a lot of references.