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Tech for Lawyering Competencies: Research & Writing: Zotero

Covers technology that assists with note-taking and writing


Zotero is a standalone (and browser app) that allows note-taking, citation, and collection/management of online sources. It is useful for a researcher and allows sharing and collaboration. With Zotero you can attach notes and images to citations, create collections, and create endnotes and bibliographies in many citation styles (including Bluebook).


Zotero is now on version 6. It is compatible with Windows and Mac OS (as well as Linux and iOS). You will also need a connector (like an add-on or extension) for your browser. All the major browsers are supported.


Safari Connector

Be sure to note that there may be additional steps to do in order to make Zotero functional if you are using Safari.

Creating Bibliography

It's easy to create a bibliography from your Zotero library.

Select the references or collections you want to include. Hold the control key and click to select multiple items. Right-click one of the selected items and choose Create Bibliography. Choose the bibliographic style you want, and select the output format: Save as RTF or HTML, copy to clipboard or print. (The RTF file format is compatible with all word processors.)


(From Roberta Woods, LibGuides: Zotero: Creating Bibliographies, (last visited Aug 26, 2017).)

Add Notes

Adding notes to resources is easy with Zotero. Right-click on the resource and select Add Note. The note will be attached to the resource and is now searchable.

Saving Citations

Once installed and enabled, the connector provides a convenient way to save embedded data to your Zotero account. It is recommended you go to you Zotero app and double-check the citation to make sure all fields are complete and accurate.

Zotero and Google Docs

Zotero now works in Google Docs. See for more information.

Group Collaboration

You can share your work with others so they can add and edit the collections.

Further Reading

Roberta Woods, LibGuides: Zotero: Home, (last visited Aug 26, 2017).

Zotero Documentation, (last visited Aug 26, 2017).

Zotero on iOS

Zotero is now available on iOS for the iPhone and iPad.

Bluebook Citations

To generate Bluebook citations with Zotero, you must first add the Bluebook style to your Zotero library:

  1. Open Zotero and go to Edit from the main menu.
  2. Select Preferences.
  3. Select Cite, located at the top of the Zotero preferences window.
  4. Click on the Styles tab.
  5. Click on the link to Get Additional Styles.
  6. Select the Bluebook Law Review style, and click Install.
  7. Return to the Zotero preferences window.

You should now see Bluebook Law Review listed in the Style Manager.

Now make Bluebook your default style:

  1. Open Zotero and go to Edit from the main menu.
  2. Select Preferences.
  3. Select Export, located at the top of the Zotero preferences window.
  4. Under Default Output Format, select Bluebook Law Review from the drop-down menu.
  5. You may now exit the Zotero preferences window.

Zotero will now automatically use the Bluebook format when generating citations.

Citations from Legal Cases

Use Google Scholar: Copy the case citation from Westlaw or Lexis, and search for the case with Google Scholar. Save the case directly to Zotero from Google Scholar by clicking on the Zotero icon (looks like a scale: ) in your web browser. This is the fastest way to save a copy of the case with the complete citation information to Zotero.

Lexis or Westlaw

Zotero will not automatically fill in citation metadata for items in Westlaw and Lexis platforms.  Two work arounds:

1.  Manually enter the metadata:  Change the document type to "article" or "case" to reveal the proper fields.


2.  Download articles as PDFs and let Zotero extract citation metadata from the file.


Drag PDFs into your Zotero library.  Right click on the item and select choose "Retrieve Metadata for PDF". 

Microsoft Word Integration

You can install MS Word Add-ins which enable built-in ability to add a citation or bibliography from your Zotero collection.

To install:

  1. Go to Edit->Preferences from menu.
  2. Click Cite
  3. Click Word Processors
  4. Click Install Microsoft Word Add-in

Word screenshot


To utilize, click Zotero in the menu and then Add/Edit Citation or Bibliography.

Word screenshot 

screenshot from MS Word


Start typing the source you want to cite, select it and you are done!

Word screenshot

Don't forget to clean up the citation!


Zotero and HeinOnline

HeinOnline and Zotero
Hein has created a useful blog post on how to save articles from HeinOnline into Zotero.