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Zotero logo.png
Zotero detecting bibliographic information from embedded COinS on a Wikipedia page
Zotero detecting bibliographic information from embedded COinS on a Wikipedia page
Developer(s) Center for History and New Media at George Mason University
Initial release October 5, 2006; 11 years ago (2006-10-05)[1]
Stable release (February 12, 2018; 11 days ago (2018-02-12)[2]) [±]
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Written in JavaScript with SQLite backend
Operating system Windows, macOS, Linux[3]
Type Reference management
License AGPL[4]
Website www.zotero.org

Zotero /zˈtɛr/ is free and open-source reference management software to manage bibliographic data and related research materials (such as PDF files). Notable features include web browser integration, online syncing, generation of in-text citations, footnotes and bibliographies, as well as integration with the word processors Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, OpenOffice.org Writer and NeoOffice. It is produced by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.


The name "Zotero" is loosely derived from the Albanian verb zotëroj, meaning "to master".[5]


Zotero shows an icon when a resource (book, article, thesis) is being viewed on many websites (such as library catalogs, PubMed, Google Scholar, Google Books, Amazon.com, Wikipedia, and publisher's websites). Clicking this icon saves the full reference information to the Zotero library. Zotero can also save a copy of the webpage, or, in the case of academic articles, a copy of the full text PDF. Users can then add notes, tags, attachments, and their own metadata.

Items are organized through a drag-and-drop iTunes-like interface, and can be searched.

Selections of the local reference library data can later be exported as formatted bibliographies. Furthermore, all entries including bibliographic information and user-created rich-text memos of the selected articles can be summarized into an HTML report.[6]

Citation formatting[edit]

Zotero users can generate citations and bibliographies through word processor plugins, or directly in Zotero, using Citation Style Language styles. The house styles of most academic journals are available in Zotero, and the bibliography can be reformatted with a few clicks. Zotero also allows users to create their own customized citation styles.

Zotero can import and export citations from/to many formats, including Wikipedia Citation Templates,[7] BibTeX, BibLateX, RefWorks, MODS, COinS, Citation Style Language/JSON, refer/BibIX, RIS, TEI, several flavours of RDF, Evernote, and EndNote. Given a choice of several formats, you should prefer RIS as the import option.

Annotation and mobile devices[edit]

Zotero can associate notes with bibliographic items. It can annotate PDFs and sync them with a mobile PDF reader through the Zotfile plugin.[8]

Language support[edit]

Zotero supports more than thirty languages as of 2014.

Product support[edit]

Zotero has no dedicated customer support service, but the Zotero website provides extensive information, including instructional screencasts, troubleshooting tips, a list of known issues, and user forums. Questions and issues raised in the forums are answered quickly, with users and developers suggesting solutions.[9]

Many academic institutions provide Zotero tutorials to their members.


Zotero uses 'translators' – short pieces of computer code, or scripts – written by volunteers,[10] to understand the structure of web pages and to parse them into citations using its internal formats.[11] These open-source scripts may be used by third party tools also, for example Wikipedia's 'Citoid' citation generator.[12]

Financial support and awards[edit]

Development of Zotero has been funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, as well as user donations.

Zotero has won awards from PC Magazine, Northwestern University's CiteFest competition, and the American Political Science Association.[13]


Zotero 1.0[edit]

The first release of Zotero, 1.0.0b2.r1, was made available in October 2006 as an add-on for the Firefox web browser. Development of Zotero 1.0.x continued until May 2009, when Zotero 1.0.10 was released.

EndNote lawsuit[edit]

In 2008, Thomson Reuters sued the Commonwealth of Virginia and George Mason University, based on the claim that Zotero's developers had, in violation of the EndNote EULA, reverse-engineered EndNote and provided Zotero with the ability to convert EndNote's proprietary .ens styles into Citation Style Language (CSL) styles.[14] George Mason University responded that they would not renew their site license for EndNote and that "anything created by users of Zotero belongs to those users, and that it should be as easy as possible for Zotero users to move to and from the software as they wish, without friction".[15] The journal Nature editorialized that "the virtues of interoperability and easy data-sharing among researchers are worth restating. Imagine if Microsoft Word or Excel files could be opened and saved only in these proprietary formats, for example. It would be impossible for OpenOffice and other such software to read and save these files using open standards—as they can legally do." [16]

The case was dismissed on June 4, 2009 due to a lack of jurisdiction.[17] Although the Virginia Supreme Court granted an appeal to Thomson Reuters in this case on December 18, 2009, the appeal was withdrawn on January 11, 2011.

Zotero 2.0[edit]

Zotero 2.0, released in February 2010, added online features like metadata and file syncing and group libraries, and included a license change from the Educational Community License to GPLv3.[18] Development of Zotero 2.0.x continued until October 2010, when Zotero 2.0.9 was released.

Zotero 2.1[edit]

Zotero 2.1, released in March 2011, adds CSL 1.0 support, Firefox 4 compatibility (the minimum is Firefox 3.6), and Zotero Commons, through which materials can be uploaded to the Internet Archive.

Zotero Standalone[edit]

Zotero Standalone, first released in January 2011, allows Zotero to be run as an independent program outside Firefox.[19] Using XULRunner, Zotero Standalone is available for Windows, Linux and macOS.[19] Connectors are available to integrate Zotero Standalone into the web browsers Safari and Chrome.[19]

Zotero 3.0[edit]

Zotero 3.0, released in January 2012, includes the stable release of Zotero Standalone as well as several new major features, including overhauled Word and LibreOffice[20] integration and duplicate detection. Version 3.0 also introduced the Zotero bookmarklet for iOS[21] browsers, Android browser, Chrome for Android, Firefox mobile, and Opera mobile allowing uses to save reference data to their Zotero library when using mobile devices.[22]

Zotero 4.0[edit]

Zotero 4.0, released in April 2013, includes new features such as automatic journal abbreviations, direct downloading of PDFs to Zotero Standalone from the Zotero Firefox plugin, a single save button on the Zotero browser plugin (which combines the functionality of the address bar icon and the “Create Web Page Item from Current Page” button), colored tags, and on-demand file syncing.[23]

Zotero 5.0[edit]

Zotero 5.0, released in July 2017, did away with the Firefox plugin, replacing it with a Firefox connector for the new standalone product.[24] This move was the result of Mozilla discontinuing its powerful extension framework on which Zotero for Firefox was based.[25] The Zotero Connectors for Chrome and Safari were also revamped, and given additional features.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "1.0 changelog [Zotero Documentation]". zotero.org. 12 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "5.0_changelog". Zotero Documentation. 
  3. ^ "Download". zotero.org. Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  4. ^ "Licensing [Zotero Documentation]". zotero.org. 24 May 2012. 
  5. ^ Dingemanse, Mark (January 25, 2008). "The etymology of Zotero". The Ideophone. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  6. ^ Vanhecke, Thomas E. (July 2008). "Zotero". Journal of the Medical Library Association : JMLA. 96 (3): 275–76. doi:10.3163/1536-5050.96.3.022. ISSN 1536-5050. PMC 2479046Freely accessible. 
  7. ^ "Wikipedia:Citing sources with Zotero". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-06-23. 
  8. ^ "ZotFile". zotfile.com. 
  9. ^ Trinoskey, Jessica; Brahmi, Frances A.; Gall, Carole (2009). "Zotero: A Product Review". Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries. 6 (3): 224–29. doi:10.1080/15424060903167229. ISSN 1542-4065. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  10. ^ "GitHub – zotero/translators: Zotero Translators". GitHub. Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  11. ^ "dev:translators". Zotero. Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  12. ^ "citoid". MediaWiki. Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  13. ^ Puckett, Jason (2011-06-20). Zotero: A Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Educators. The Association of College and Research Libraries. p. 3. ISBN 9780838985892. 
  14. ^ "Reuters Says George Mason University Is Handing Out Its Proprietary Software". Courthouse News Service. 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2008-09-28. 
  15. ^ Owens, Trevor (2008-10-29). "Official Statement". Zotero: The Next-Generation Research Tool. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  16. ^ "Beta blockers?". Nature. 455 (7214): 708. 2008-10-09. doi:10.1038/455708a. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 18843308. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-05-24. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  17. ^ Takats, Sean (2009-06-04). "Thomson Reuters Lawsuit Dismissed". The Quintessence of Ham. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  18. ^ Center for History and New Media (2010-01-26). "changelog [Zotero Documentation]: Changes in 2.0rc1 (January 26, 2010)". Zotero.org. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  19. ^ a b c Maron, Deborah (2011-02-07). "Zotero Standalone Alpha with Chrome and Safari support". Zotero. Retrieved 2015-11-20. 
  20. ^ which includes OpenOffice.org
  21. ^ iPad, iPhone
  22. ^ Puckett, Jason (2015-11-05). "GSU Library Research Guides: Zotero: Install Zotero for iPad". Retrieved 2015-11-20. 
  23. ^ "Zotero 4.0 changelog". Retrieved 7 December 2016. 
  24. ^ "Zotero 5.0". Zotero. Retrieved 11 July 2017. 
  25. ^ "A Unified Zotero Experience". Zotero. 10 July 2017. Retrieved 19 February 2018. 
  26. ^ "New Features for Chrome and Safari Connectors". Retrieved 11 July 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Puckett, Jason (2011). Zotero: A Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Educators. Chicago: Association for College and Research Libraries. ISBN 978-0-8389-8589-2. OCLC 723141626. 

External links[edit]