Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Zotero: Generating References

Organizing your library

Organizing your library

You can organise your references in Zotero by using Collections and Tags.


You may wish to create a new collection for each topic you are studying or for each of your modules. One reference can be in multiple collections. So, for example if you used the book Early Childhood Education & Care by Máire Mhic Mhathúna in two of your essays, you can add it to two collections.

To create a new collection in Zotero, follow these steps:
  • Open the Zotero desktop app
  • Sign into your account
  • Click the yellow folder icon on the top left menu
  • Give your new collection a name
  • If you have references in your library already and you wish to add them to your new collection, simply click the title in the centre panel and drag it over to the new collection
  • Your reference will then be added to the new collection and won’t be removed from the original location
To remove a reference from Zotero, follow these steps:
  • To remove a reference from a collection, right click on the item you wish to remove and choose the “Remove item from collection” option
  • Removing a reference from a collection does not delete the reference, it will still be visible in My Library
  • To delete a reference permanently from your library, right click on the reference and choose “Move item to trash”
  • You can use tags to organise your references. To add a tag to an item, follow these steps:
  • Click on the reference to which you want to add a tag in the centre panel
  • On the right-hand panel, choose the heading “Tags”
  • Click “add”
  • Give your tag a name
You can colour code your tags, to do so follow these steps:
  • In the bottom left menu, you will see a list of the tags you have created
  • Right click on the tag to which you wish to assign a colour
  • Choose a colour from the drop-down menu
  • Up to 9 tags can be assigned colours

Zotero Groups

Zotero Groups

You can set up a group in Zotero to share a separate library of references with classmates. This can be helpful when you are completing a group project. It is recommended that you create Private groups for use within college, so group members can be invited to join, and you can restrict who has access. Remember to give you group a descriptive name so you can identify it easily among your groups. Find out more information about using groups on the Zotero website:

Generating your reference list

Generating your reference list

You can use Zotero to generate a list of references, like the one you need at the end of your essay. Having your references in collections for an essay makes this very easy. To generate your reference list, follow these steps:

  • Open the Zotero desktop app
  • Sign into your account
  • Highlight one or more references that will comprise your reference list
  • Right click and choose “Create Bibliography from Selected Item(s)…”.
  • Select your citation style (APA 7th)
  • The choose one of the four following options:
    • Save as RTF will allow you to save the bibliography as a rich text file.
    • Save as HTML will allow you to save the bibliography as a HTML file for viewing in a web browser. This format will also embed metadata allowing other Zotero users viewing the document to capture bibliographic information.
    • Copy to Clipboard will allow you to save the bibliography to your clipboard to paste into any text field.
    • Print will send your bibliography straight to a printer.
  • The most commonly chosen option is the first one, this allows you to save a text file of your reference list which can be copied into your essay document.
  • Check and proof-read the reference list that is created. You are ultimately responsible for referencing correctly.

How to construct a reference list

You need to list all of the works you have cited in your essay in one list at the end of your essay. Title this list “References”. You cannot list anything in your references that you have not cited in your essay, even if you have read the book/article during your research.

Your reference list should be arranged alphabetically by the first word of the reference, which is usually the author's last name.

Your reference list should be formatted with a hanging indent, so it should look like this:

Zotero plugin for Microsoft Word

Zotero plugin for Microsoft Word

Installing the Zotero plugin adds a Zotero tab to Microsoft Word. This can be used when writing essays to add in-text citations and to generate your reference list. You find more information and the link to download the plugin here:

Creating in-text citations

When you are writing your essay, you must cite any research you use. You can use Zotero to help you. To insert an in-text citation, follow these steps:

  • Navigate to the Zotero tab on the top menu in Microsoft Word
  • Click in the body of your essay where you would like to insert your in-text citation
  • On the Zotero menu, choose “Add/Edit Citation”
  • In the Zotero search bar that appears, search for the relevant reference. Try searching by author to find it quickly
  • Select the correct reference
  • Check the citation that Zotero has created
  • Does it include the author’s name?
  • If you have already mentioned the author’s name in the sentence, you don’t need to include it in the citation. Click into the citation, which will be highlighted in grey. Use the backspace button to remove the name. You will be left with the date, still highlighted in grey.
  • The grey highlighting means that Zotero is working in the background to keep track of the references.
  • Repeat these steps for all your references while you are writing your essay

Generating your reference list

If you have used the “Cite While You Write” function (described above) while writing your essay, Zotero can automatically generate your reference list. To do so, follow these steps:

  • Create a heading titled “Reference List” at the very end of your essay
  • On the Zotero menu in Microsoft Word, choose “Add/Edit Bibliography”
  • Your reference list (bibliography) will be generated and formatted automatically by extracting the information from the citations you inserted into your essay.
  • Check and proofread the reference list that Zotero has created
    • Are all names and titles spelled correctly?
    • Are there correct links for journal articles / e-resources?
    • Are all your references included?
      • Zotero can only extract references that you have added by using the “Add/Edit Citation” function. If you have just typed a citation in manually, it cannot extract that reference for you. You can add it in manually or go back and use the “Add/Edit Citation” function and then update your reference list/bibliography.
Twitter Facebook Email

Marino Institute of Education Library Griffith Avenue, Dublin 9 | t: +353 1 805 7753
© 2016 Marino Institute of Education Library

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.