As we've said throughout this guide, Zotero is extremely robust and customizable. There's no way we could cover everything Zotero is capable of doing, but we did want to provide an introduction to some of the basic functionality provided. This includes:
This section will cover how to add new citations to My Library in Zotero. My Library is the default database that holds everything that you put in Zotero including Notes, Citations, Collections, and Attachments. Later we will cover how to organize My Library using Collections and Tags.
There are several ways to add a new citation.
To add citations via the browser connector:
Zotero can only save the info that is provided on the website. If they do not provide the author but one is listed, you will have to add that manually afterwards. Make sure to double check the citations Zotero saves because they are often missing or have incorrect information.
To add citations by identifier:
ISBNs are often used for the same edition but in different printings thus it may not be the same book you actually are using. Be careful when using these to make sure they are the correct editions.
To add citations manually:
Collections are used to group citations in folders that help you keep them organized. All your collections and thus citations are still kept in the parent My Library so even though you put the citation in a collection, it is still going to be found under My Library as well. You may put a citation in more than one collection. You may also created collections within other collections. Below you will find basic instructions on how to create a collection.
To create a collection:
That's all there is to it. Now you can drag and drop citations from My Library into that collection. To add a subcollection to the collection you just created, right click on the collection you want the subcollection in and select "New Subcollection".
Adding notes to a citation/source is a great way to record your thoughts on the information in that source or about the source itself. Because it is a plain text note, you can add anything you want to it including links (not photos or other files but you can link to them).
To add a note:
You can add as many notes as you want to each citation.
Notes are "stuck" in Zotero. You are not able to view them using any other software and you cannot export them in any way. The only way to see them is in Zotero. Most of Zotero's other data including citation data can be exported so it is important to remember that notes will not be exported.
Tags are another way besides Collections to organize your citations. You can tag anything in Zotero from the citations themselves to the notes or the attachments. Typically, most users will only tag the citation or parent citation rather than tagging the notes/child notes and attachments. Each scenario is different so do what works best for you. Tags will allow you to connect citation/sources across collections by topic, subject, project, or however you want to organize your information. It is entirely up to you but having a standard way to use tags will help keep things clear as the number of tags you have increases.
To add tags:
To edit an existing tag:
Using the "Related" tab is a great way to show that citation/sources from different places are somehow related. This creates a link between the two. This can be used for notes or citations/sources.
To create a relationship between sources/citations:
You can add as many citations/sources as you want this way. The useful part about this is that Zotero will also "backwards link" the citation/source meaning that after you link source 1 to source 2, you can click on source 2 and it show under the "Related" tab that it is linked to source 1 without you having to make that link again.