Skip to Main Content


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

Having problems? Try these

Your connector is how you save items/records from the web to your downloaded, Zotero library (software).

  1. Ensure you have registered for and have activated a free account through Zotero. Do not use your OHIO email to create your account. Make sure BOTH your connector in your browser and your downloaded Zotero are synced with your Zotero account.
  • From your Zotero software find preferences, then sync, and ensure your account is linked there
  • Connector preferences will vary by browser. Chrome refers to it as an extension. Firefox as an add-on.

Zotero should automatically appear in your Microsoft Ribbon (toolbar). It happens and could be due to an older device, an old version of Microsoft Office, or with Macs. it just varies.

  1. Restart your computer. Often it takes a system refresh to connect to Microsoft.
  2. Make sure your Zotero connector in your browser and your Zotero software are synced together with your free Zotero account. Re-watch the syncing video if needed.
  3. Make sure your Microsoft Word is updated. OHIO students and faculty can download for free at OITs website.
    • Restart your computer after downloading Zotero and completing the syncing process and after ensuring your Microsoft Office is updated.
  4. Still not working? Then explore Zotero's help forum as it will walk you through how to manually download the Microsoft plugin.

It happens, especially when you save items/records from the general web, like Google. Good thing you can edit in Zotero. Do NOT edit the citation in Word if you have used the in-text citation add feature. Edit in your Zotero library.

When you are in your Zotero library, click on the title of the record that is incorrect. On the right-hand-side, you can click into those fields to edit the title, author, etc. Make your edits.

If you noticed the error by using the in-text citation addition feature, then go back to your Word document, go to Zotero in your ribbon/toolbar, and click refresh. The reference will updated based on your edits from your Zotero library.

If the PDF is old or has incomplete data (often happens when saving PDFs from websites, not library databases) it will be unreadable to Zotero. Which means even after you drag/drop it into Zotero and retrieve metadata, it will not create your record. You will have to do so manually. Under the Adding Citation Data tab, see Manually Add... and Attaching Files...)

The Zotero browser extension may cause the screen to continuously blink but never fully connect to BrowZine. The problem can fixed by going into the Zotero browser extension and disabling the proxy redirection.

For Chrome the directions are:

  1. Click on the 3 dots below the 'X' to close your browser window.
  2. Select 'More tools', and then click on 'Extensions'.
  3. Click on 'Details' in the Zotero Connector.
  4. Click on 'Extension options'. And under 'Proxies', uncheck the box “Enable proxy redirection”.

Full directions with screenshots can be found in this document, but feel free to reach out to for more assistance.

Make sure that in your Zotero Library preferences, under General Settings, that the box is checked to automatically identify and attach PDFs.

Sometimes Zotero cannot find a PDF from where you are saving the record. You may have to manually add the PDF as an attachment to your record after you save it to your computer.

Increasing full text gathering in Zotero by adding Ohio University to the OpenURL advanced preference setting

By adding Ohio University's OpenURL, you will increase Zotero's ability to identify Ohio University Libraries' full text subscriptions and gather the full PDF to your library.

Steps to add Ohio University to the OpenURL:

  1. In the Zotero software, click on Edit and then Preferences
  2. Navigate to Advanced within Zotero Preferences
  3. Under OpenURL, click on the drop down menu and click on "North America" and then "Ohio University"
  4. Save preferences

Screenshot below demonstrates what to look for in Zotero's Preferences

screenshot that shows directions in Zotero to add more full text. Edit zotero preferences, click to Advanced, click on drop down menu to select North America and then Ohio university

First, make sure you are using the Microsoft Word or Google Docs Zotero plug-in. If you copy and paste into a new document the highlighting may occur.

Still happening? Then check out the Zotero Help Forum for directions on how to remove.

Visit Zotero's help forum or documentation space.

Contact the Libraries Research Services Department

Email us:

The Research Services Department can help you along your research journey in a variety of ways. Ask us about:

meet the libraries research services team, Hanna Schmillen, Jonathan Brier, 2 open positions

Subjects: Interdisciplinary