How to Use Zotero

Bite-size search strategies to help you become an expert searcher.


You may already have a large number of PDF files on your computer. You can bring these in to Zotero and retrieve data to create a bibliographic reference.

  1. Locate the PDF files on your computer and select those you want to bring in to Zotero
  2. Click on these and drag them to the middle column in Zotero
  3. Zotero will launch a search to see if it can identify and retrieve a reference for the selected files (this process does not always work)

Complete Instructions


Task for learning: Drag and drop three PDF documents from your computer into Zotero. Correct any incomplete or inaccurate metadata (e.g. title, author, date of publication). Create manual reference entries for any document Zotero does not automatically identify.

Which of the following PDF documents would Zotero probably have the easiest time recognizing?
A) A scholarly article from a peer-reviewed journal published in the last 10 years: 15 votes (88.24%)
B) A publication from the Government of Canada: 0 votes (0%)
C) A scanned copy of a scholarly article that was originally printed in 1984: 2 votes (11.76%)
D) A syllabus or set of lecture notes: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 17

All Review Questions

If you have questions, or if you run into problems that the course does not address, e-mail the University of Ottawa Library:


This online course is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. Unless otherwise stated, it is attributed to Mish Boutet, and is based on handouts by Patrick Labelle (also under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

[How to Use Zotero online course updated: December 1, 2019]