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Zotero Basics (Workshop): Tips for Getting Started

This guide includes a summary of our Zotero workshop, plus useful links to get you started.

Getting Started

Start right away.  The sooner in your research process that you make Zotero part of your routine, the more organized you will be and the easier it will be to keep everything caught up.  Don’t wait until you are in the writing phase of your thesis or dissertation to get started.

See the tips below for things you should think about before you fill your Zoteo library with lots of records.

Be Organized

Think about the organization of your library BEFORE you start adding records.

Collections & Tags

Think about how you want to use folders and tags to organize your records before you start adding to your library.  That way you can organize items as you add them.  See the "Organizing Your Library" tab to learn more.

Attached Files

When you first set up Zotero, play attention to where it is storing attached files.  If you don’t want them stored in the default area, change that before you start adding records.  If you will be using the Zotero desktop version on multiple computers, you might want to set up a cloud-hosted folder in which to store your attachments.  It needs to be a space that you can navigate to as a mapped folder on your computer, rather than a browser-based storage space.  See the tip for Storing Attachments in the Cloud.

Keep a Tidy Library!

Clean up citation information as you import the records into your library.  With each record you add, make sure that you have the proper capitalization and all the citation information you need for the citation style you plan to use.  This means that you should choose your citation style early on and familiarize yourself with the style manual early on.

Enter one record at a time...

While it may seem more time efficient to import a lot of records all at once, we recommend adding just one record at a time.  This will make it much easier to check and clean up records as they are added.  Cleaning up records on entry will save you much more time than making corrections every time you cite a source.


Using Sources in Multiple Languages?

  • Use the title capitalization appropriate to each language.
  • Bring in the proper diacritic marks with the records.
  • If you are using transliterated author names and titles (for languages that do not use the Latin alphabet), enter the proper transliteration into your records as you enter them.  You can retain the non-Latin versions in the Extra field or in a note if needed.
    • For example, you could add a key-value pair in the Extra field for the original language title or for the transliterated title.  See examples in the bullets below:
    • Title-Original-Language:  Флаги рассказывают
    • Title-Transliterated-LC:  Flagi rasskazyvaiut
  • Remember:  The purpose of a citation is to help another researcher find your original source.  Therefore, you should cite items using the titles in either the original language or a transliterated form of the language instead of translating titles.

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