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Citation Tools

Guidance for selecting and using common citation tools.

Consider using Zotero if...

... you often save references while researching, then review and download the full text later.

... you use sources in a variety of formats, including video, audio, art, etc.

... you keep formatted notes, i.e., they contain bold or italic text, superscripts, bulleted lists, and/or you like to keep multiple notes.

... you like using tools that are customizable and configurable.

Installing and Customizing Zotero

Step 1: Install Zotero (stand-alone) 

  • Open
  • Download and install Zotero on each computer you regularly use. (You do not have to install on all computers at the same time), The installation automatically includes the toolbar for Word.
  • Install the Zotero Connector for each browser you use:
    • PCs - Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera
    • Macs - Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Opera
    • NOTE: There is currently no connector for Internet Explorer. 

Step 2: Register at to allow syncing among multiple computers.

Step 3: Customize using Preferences

  • Open Zotero on your computer (red Z - Desktop or Dock)
  • Open Preferences - Edit | Preferences or Zotero | Preferences
    • Sync: Enter your Zotero username and password; choose whether attachments should be synced (you have 300MB of free cloud storage, about 100 PDFs)
    • Advanced | General | Resolver (OpenURL): Enter the Get it @ VCU address:

Using Zotero for academic writing