Skip to main content

Zotero Citation Manager: Getting Started

What is Zotero?

Zotero is a free, open source citation management software program. Open source software is often developed collaboratively by volunteers or nonprofit groups, or both! Zotero is a project of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, and relies on volunteers for development and support of the software.

Zotero Pros

  • Zotero allows you to store and organize references.
  • Zotero offers an open URL resolver to locate full text in the Walden Library.
  • Zotero offers a feature to find reference citation information for PDFs you add manually.
  • A word processor plug-in allows you to insert in-text citations while typing your papers, and generates a reference list of all your citations at the end.
  • Zotero allows you to create stand alone reference lists from items in your library.

Note: The accuracy of your APA citations remains your responsibility, so you will want to double-check the citations to make sure they are in proper APA style.

Zotero Cons

  • Zotero offers limited networking features.
  • Zotero doesn't offer features for note taking and annotating PDF documents, although there are third party apps that will allow you to have this functionality.


Get an overview of Zotero by checking out the Quick Start Guide put together by the Zotero team.


Note: Zotero is just one of many citation management software options. The Walden University Library does not specifically endorse or recommend Zotero over other available options.

Where to download Zotero

Zotero formerly offered two download options, one for the browser and a standalone version. Zotero 5.0 for Windows replaces Zotero 4.0 Standalone and Zotero 4.0 for Firefox.

Zotero 5.0 for Windows: This version works with Chrome, Firefox, or Safari browsers. You need to install the connector for the browser(s) you wish to use. This version includes the word processing plug-in in the download.

Zotero does not work with the Internet Explorer browser.

You can download Zotero on the Zotero website:


If you experience any problems downloading and installing Zotero, please consult the installation help page on the Zotero website:


The Library is unable to offer technical support for Zotero technical issues. The Zotero team keeps up-to-date on technical issues and problems, and are the best source of support for the software.

Check out the Where to Find Troubleshooting Help page on this guide for links to Frequently Asked Questions, the forums, and other pages on the Zotero website where you can find help with any technical questions.

Create a Zotero account

You do not have to create a Zotero account to use Zotero. Creating an account is free, and strongly recommended. 

Creating an account allows you to sync the things you've saved on your computer with the Zotero servers. You can then share your Library on more than one computer, transfer it to a new computer, or access it online at Data syncing is free, and has no storage limit. For more information on syncing your information, check out this Zotero guide:


You will also need a Zotero account to post to the Zotero forums or ask support questions.

Zotero basics webinar

Video: Zotero Basics (YouTube)

Recorded March 2018 (62 min 1 sec)