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Bibliographic Management Software and Citation Applications

An overview of bibliographic management software and citation applications, including in depth discussions of and instructions on using EndNote Basic, Endnote and Zotero.

The Basics

Zotero was created by the Center for History and New Media and George Mason University and sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the United States Institute of Museum and Library Services. It is available as a desktop download for Mac, Windows, and Linux. 

Free v. pay:
Zotero is completely free and open source. Additional storage can be purchased.

Zotero has an iOS app and you can access your Zotero library on the web via the Zotero site.

Zotero does allow for storage of files within your library. Zotero's free online storage is limited to 300 MB and additional storage can be purchased. 

Integration with other products:
Zotero can export resources in a format readable by most other bibliographic software including EndNote/EndNote Basic.

Zotero can be collaborative. You can create groups and share library folders with them. You can even make them public if you like. It also has a social media like function that will allow you to follow the research of others or others to follow yours.

Resource Collection:
Though only a few databases list Zotero in their export options, most will, in fact, export to Zotero. Zotero works with the .ris file type that is common among bibliographic software applications. You can also manually add items to your library as well as create an item out of any web page you might be visiting using the Zotero Connector plug-in.

Find It button / Open URL integration:
Zotero has a built in “Locate” button for each resource which connects to an Open URL resolver. If you’re on campus you can choose to use the Find It button option. If you’re outside of a Boise State IP domain you will have the option of finding it using WorldCat to find the item.

Style coverage:
Zotero comes preloaded with all major styles, and thousands of additional journal-specific styles are freely available. For a list of all styles see here.

Word processor integration:
Zotero provides plug-ins for with Microsoft Word and LibreOffice in both Windows and Mac computers. It is also the only bibliographic manager that can integrate with Google Docs.

Downloads, Add-ons & Plug-ins:
Everything related to Zotero requires some sort of download or plug-in most of which are available here.

Since Zotero is open source, their support pages are quite extensive.

Getting Started

Where to get it:
Visit Zotero's website to set up an account and download the desktop application. 

How to start using it:
Visit here to see a Getting Started Quick Guide video tutorial.



Does it work with EndNote Basic?
Yes, you can import and export references to and from EndNote and EndNote Basic.

Will it format a paper I’ve already written?
No, unfortunately it will not. You can, however, use the word processor plug-in to create citations and bibliographies as you write your paper.

Will it do my citations for me?
Yes, the word processor will allow you to insert citations and build your bibliography for resources you’ve added to your Zotero library as you write your paper, but you must still know how and where to cite your resources. Once you have inserted citations, however, you can easily change from one style to another.

Can I share my resources with others?
Yes. You can create groups and share library folders with them. You can even make them public if you like. For more information watch this tutorial on groups

Will it store my PDF files?
Yes, it will, up to 300MB for free via cloud storage. Additional storage can be purchased.

Can I edit Citation Styles?
Yes. You can even create your own style if necessary but it's a little complicated. For more info please click here.