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Zotero Basics (Workshop): Importing Records

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

Before You Import

  • Always open your Zotero software before you try to import records.
  • Import one record at a time.  While you can import more than one record at a time, we recommend against doing that.  It is much easier to clean up your records and check them if you import one record at a time.
  • File your records as you import them.  If you do get behind, use the "Unfiled Items" view below your folders to see which items have not been added to collections.
  • Give Zotero time to examine the record and determine the publication type.  This is the key to getting the data into the correct fields in your library record.  The "Save to Zotero" icon in your bookmarks tool bar will change to show a book, book section, article, webpage, etc.  See the Sample Toolbar Icons below.

Sample Toolbar Icons

Toolbar Icon Location showing Article Icon:

toolbar location

Book Icon:

book icon

Webpage Icon:

Webpage Icon

PDF Icon:

PDF Icon


Recommended Sources for Records

UC Library Search

UC Library Search is the best tool for determining what is available through our library and the other libraries of the University of California.  However, it should not be the only tool that you use in your research.  Use UC Library Search for books and book chapters. For article records discovered through UC Library Search, click through to the site with the full text before you add the record.  In most cases the PDF will be automatically downloaded and attached to the record in your library.


WorldCat can also be a good tool for book records, especially those that you have to request through Interlibrary Loan.  For article records discovered through WorldCat, click through to the site with the full text before you add the record.  In most cases the PDF will be automatically downloaded and attached to the record in your library.

Article Databases

Use our subject guides to find databases related to your discipline.

Your subject librarian can help you identify the best databases for your subject area and research topic.  We recommend that you make an appointment with a librarian to learn more about the specialized research tools available to you through the UCSB Library.

Google Scholar

Use Google Scholar as a quick shortcut to get to article records.  Follow the title link or use the "Get it at UC" link to go to the source database.  Downloading from the article source will give you both the record and the attached PDF (when available).

You can also use Google Scholar to create records from scratch if there are no links available. Use the "Cite" link below the record to bring up citations for the item.  Create a blank record in your library, then copy and paste the citation information into the record.

Attached Files

If the full text of the PDF does not download and attach when you import the record into Zotero, you can manually save the PDF and then attach it yourself.  If you receive an article through Interlibrary Loan or scan a book chapter, you can also attach it to the record in Zotero.  This makes it really convenient to find files, especially once you have accumulated a large number of citations for your library.

Sample Records to Import into Your Library

UC Library Search


Academic Search Complete

TIP:  It is often better to add records that have the full text linked.  Try "Get it at UC" and see if you can do that.


TIP:  Open the full text of one article and accept the terms of use before downloading records from JSTOR.  This will enable it to download the PDFs as attachments.


Google Scholar

Tip:  See the steps below the link.

Step 1:  Click on the folder icon and select a few items to import into your Zotero library.

Step 2:  Download records for the article "Digestive tract morphology and digestion in the wombats (Marsupialia: Vombatidae)"

Try these three different methods and download records from each path:

  • #1:  Click on the title in the Google Scholar Search results
  • #2:  Click on "[PDF]" link at right
  • #3:  Click on the "Get it at UC" link at right

Don't Forget to Clean Up Your Library!

After the workshop, you can easily find and delete the sample records from your library.  Just search on the word "wombat". 

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