How to Use Zotero

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


The Zotero plugin for Word, Google Docs, or LibreOffice allows you to insert references within a document and then generate a bibliography using those references.
Please note that the steps described below are used in Word 2013 for Windows.

  1. In Word, begin typing your document and place your cursor where you would like to insert your citation
  2. Click the Zotero tab in Word to display options
  3. Click the first icon "Add/Edit Citation"
  4. Select your citation style (this option only appears the first time you insert a citation)
  5. Click OK
  6. Type part of the author’s name or part of the title (you can also access an entire list of your references by clicking the drop-down arrow next to the "Z" in the search box that appears)
  7. Select the appropriate reference from the list that appears
  8. Click the reference in the search box to select other options, if applicable
    • Page – add a page number if using a direct quote or using a style that requires pagination as part of the reference. The "Page" drop-down menu provides other alternatives if you are quoting a chapter, a line, a paragraph or another value
    • Prefix – add text prior to the reference
    • Suffix – add text following the reference
    • Omit Author – if the name of the author appears in the sentence, in certain styles, you do not need to include the name again, so you can check the box next to "Omit Author"
  9. If your citation or parenthetical reference needs to include more than one source, type part of another author’s name or another title and select the appropriate reference from the list that appears
  10. Press the Enter key to insert the reference(s) in your text
  11. After inserting one or more references, you can edit it by clicking anywhere in the citation and clicking again on the "Add/Edit Citation" icon
  12. When you are ready to insert your bibliography, place your cursor in the appropriate location in your document and click on the icon to "Insert Bibliography" Note – Always verify the accuracy of any list of references created with Zotero
  13. You can edit the bibliography by clicking anywhere in it and clicking on the icon to "Edit Bibliography"

There are three other options in the Zotero toolbar:

  • Document Preferences – Allows you to change the citation style
  • Refresh – If you add or remove citations in your text after already inserting a bibliography and you notice that the changes have not been made automatically, you can click on this button to "refresh" and update your document
  • Remove Field Codes – Removes all the codes that Zotero uses to identify citations used to generate a bibliography; once removed, you will no longer be able to use the Zotero options for that particular document

Complete Instructions


Task for learning: In Word, add citations to three different documents, then create a bibliography for those three documents.

Review question:

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 at


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: November 8, 2022]