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A guide to using Zotero, a free tool for collecting information about your research sources and creating citations.

Organizing Your Citation Data

Once you have data in your Zotero library, you may want to organize the data in a way that fits your understanding of your research. Zotero offers a number of ways to do this, including:


Collections function like folders within your Zotero library.

  • All of your citations fall under the top-level My Library collection
  • You can create collections and sub-collections within the My Library and add citations by dragging them from the middle column over the collection title in the left sidebar.
  • Each citation can be in multiple collections
Click New Collection to create a collection in your My Library. Drag a collection into another to make it a sub-collection. Right click on a collection or sub-collection and choose Create Sub-collection to add a new sub-collection


Tags link items together that have been assigned the same tag.

  • You can add a tag to an item in the right-hand information column or by dragging a citation (or multiple citations) over an exisiting tag in the left-hand column.
  • Up to 9 of yo turags can be assigned a color by right clicking on the tag and choosing Assign color.... Tags with colors assigned show a small square of that color in the middle column making these items easier to identify.
  • Some citations may import with automatic tags, especially when importing from library databases. To stop the automatic import of automatic tags by uncheck the box under Preferences General Miscelaneous that says Automatically tag items with keywords and subject headings.
  • You can also turn off the display of automatic tags and bulk delete them by choosing the Actions option on the lower right corner of the tags panel.
  • Delete any tag from your tags list by right clicking on the tag choosing Delete tag.... This will remove the tag from all citations to which it was linked.
Click on an item and add a tag in the tags tab on the right panel. Drag one or more tags over an existing tag in the left panel to add the tag to all of those items.

Related Items

Subjects: Interdisciplinary