Zotero Reference Manager

Zotero Reference Manager


📍 What is Zotero and how do I use it?

Zotero is a reference manager that allows you to quickly collect, organize, and cite your sources. 

How to use Zotero

📍 How do I import bibliographies from my pre-Zotero papers written in Microsoft Word or other word processors?

You cannot directly copy-and-paste existing bibliographies into Zotero. You have several options for getting items from your pre-Zotero bibliographies into your Zotero for future use:

  1. For very short bibliographies, search for each of the items in a large database that is compatible with Zotero, such as Worldcat.org, Google Scholar/Books. Import the bibliographic data for each item into your Zotero.
  2. For very large lists, try Brown University's FreeCite Open Source Citation Parser. It will attempt to parse the bibliography into a format that can be read by Zotero. Simply copy and paste the bibliography into the form provided on the website and it will generate a list that Zotero will be able to detect via the web translator icon. You should verify if the items were converted correctly by reviewing the Zotero fields after you have added the items.
  3. For very large and complicated lists, try text2bib from University of Toronto. This is a robust converter that allows you to verify and correct your bibliographic data before generating a downloadable citation. You will need to register for an account for this service. Once you’ve confirmed via email, and setup the password, it will send you to a page with a place for you to upload a file. You should attach a plain text file (not a .doc file, it should end with .txt) that contains your bibliography.
    • All the options below the attachment area can be set as default, except for ‘Item separator’. If there’s a blank space between each of your items, do nothing, if there’s no blank space—just a return, then choose the other option. Click ‘Convert to bibtex’. It will try to convert one item at a time—each field should contain extracted data from your bibliographical item.
    • If it is all blank, look towards the bottom and make sure you’ve selected the correct item type, then resubmit again. If it still doesn’t work, you can enter the data into the fields manually or go to Google scholar to get the citation, and then hit ‘Add to BibTex and continue...’ On your last item, there will be a choice to display or export the final BibText file. Choose ‘display’ and then highlight all the text and copy it. (Alternatively, download the BibText file, then use the ‘Import’ function from the next step, rather than ‘Import from Clipboard’).
    • Create a subcollection in Zotero (so you know these came from this conversion method). Then go to Zotero and select the cogwheel and then ‘Import from Clipboard’. That should pull all the processed items into your subcollection. Then go through it to see if there are errors you need to correct. Or generate a bibliography from Zotero and compare it to your original.
  4. Zotero itself has updated resources for importing existing bibliographies: https://www.zotero.org/support/kb/importing_formatted_bibliographies

Tips & Guides

Software Downloads


"...a variant of the well-known Zotero reference manager that adds support for legal and multilingual research and writing." You can use this unofficial version if you are already familiar with Zotero, however, the future development of this variant may not directly follow with upgrades to Zotero itself.


A bibliographic reference manager for gathering and organization citation information. An MS Word plugin can perform the cite-as-you-write function. Firefox, Chrome, and Safari plugins assist with gathering bibliographic information while researching online. Generates bibliographies in various citation styles with one click.

Related Books

Citation Converters

FreeCite Citation Parser

This will attempt to parse a bibliography (from Word, or other documents) into a format that can be read by Zotero and other reference managers for importing purposes. Simply copy and paste the bibliography into the provided form and it will generate a list that Zotero will be able to detect.

text2bib Individual registration required.

A robust converter that allows you to paste a bibliography (from Word or other text documents) and verify its conversion before generating a file that Zotero (and other reference managers) can import as individual entries.