Zotero is, at the most basic level, a reference manager. It is designed to store, manage, and cite bibliographic references, such as books and articles. In Zotero, each of these references constitutes an item. More broadly, Zotero is a powerful tool for collecting and organizing research information and sources.

Getting started

How do I install Zotero

How do I open Zotero

Zotero can be opened from your operating system's dock or file manager like any other program

How do I join a group in Zotero

During the development of an assessment, private groups will be created at the assessment or chapter level depending on the needs of the assessment. Private groups means that only experts who are invited to the group will be able to see the group’s page. The private groups are completely hidden from group searches. They are not shown on members’ public profile pages and will not appear in search engine results. File sharing will be made available to allow group members to access and share files in addition to references. Invitations to the groups are managed by the assessment technical support unit.

Adding bibliography to library

Zotero can add items automatically using their an ISBN number, Digital Object Identifier (DOI), or PubMed ID. This is done by clicking the Add Item by Identifier button (
) in the Zotero toolbar, typing in the ID number, and clicking OK. You can even paste or enter (press Shift+Enter for a larger box) a list of such identifiers at once

Add item manually

Items can be added manually by clicking the green New Item (
) button in the Zotero toolbar, then selecting the appropriate item type. Metadata can then be added by hand in the right-hand pane. Apart from the versatility this provides, it is important for adding primary documents.


Zotero uses Citation Style Language (CSL) to properly format citations in many different bibliographic styles. IPBES has adopted the American Psychological Association 7th edition style. To use this style:
  1. 1.
    In the Zotero Style Manager, click on the American Psychological Association 7th edition. If it is not in the list of styles, click the 'Get additional styles' button, then find the “American Psychological Association 7th edition” style and click ok.

Moving Documents with Zotero Citations Between Word Processors

It is important to retain citation links in the final versions of documents.
Authors have different preferences for their choice in word processors. Many experts prefer to use Google Docs because it facilitates online collaboration and it is easy to use. The drafts and and final documents are however, reviewed in MS Word so it is important to convert documents between different processors carefully to retain citation links.
If you use the Zotero word processor plugin to add citations to your document and then open the document in another word processor, the Zotero citation links will be lost. To retain active Zotero citations when moving between programs, you can use the plugin to convert the document to a temporary format that can be safely transferred and then restore it in another supported word processor.

Word to Google Docs

  1. 1.
    In Word, use File → Save As… to create a copy of the document as a .docx with a new filename (e.g., “My Document - Transfer.docx”).
  2. 2.
    Click Document Preferences in the Zotero plugin and select “Switch to a Different Word Processor…”.
  3. 3.
    After the document has been converted, save the changes (File → Save).
  4. 4.
    Use File → Open… from within a Google Doc to upload the file.
  5. 5.
    Select Refresh from the Zotero menu in the opened Google Doc to continue using the document.

Google Docs to Word

  1. 1.
    In the Google Doc, use File → Make a Copy… to create a copy of the document.
  2. 2.
    In the new document, select “Switch word processors…” from the Zotero menu.
  3. 3.
    Select File → Download as → Microsoft Word (.docx) and save the converted file.
  4. 4.
    Open the downloaded file in Word and click Refresh in the Zotero plugin to continue using the document.

Reference workflow

Reference workflow
  1. 1.
    The technical support units will be required to clean references stored in Zotero periodically. Experts will only have read only access when this is taking place
  2. 2.
    Experts are strongly encouraged to import references into Zotero using the Zotero web tool or by importing .ris and .bib files. Dragging of PDF files is discourgaged
  3. 3.
    File sharing through Zotero is possible. Preference should be on grey literature. DOI of other files will suffice.

Workflow to delete unused references

Please use this workflow when the assessment has been approved and there will be no further changes to the references included in the text.
  1. 1.
    In the Zotero chapter library, select one entry that was used in the chapter and create a tag named "used"
  2. 2.
    The bottom left of your screen shows all the tags in your library. Right click on the "used" tag you just created. Click "Assign color". A pop up window will appear, ensure that the position is selected as 1 and press "Set Color"
  3. 3.
    Now, go to this website: https://rintze.zelle.me/ref-extractor/. Select "Choose File" and navigate to the chapter file, and click open
  4. 4.
    Next, under the results section, press the "Select in Zotero button". Here you will see in which libraries the references are located. Select the chapter library which contains the references
  5. 5.
    Click "open Zotero" in the pop up window. Zotero should now open with all the citations used selected
  6. 6.
    Press 1. Now all used citations used in the chapter document are tagged
  7. 7.
    Simply go through all the entries not tagged and delete them from the library. You will be left with only the tagged references that were used in the document


Please contact the assessment technical support unit if you have questions regarding getting files into the assessment/chapter library, organizing the assessment/chapter Library and taking notes, generating bibliographies,citations, and reports.