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MLA Citation Guide: Zotero

A guide the the Modern Language Association (MLA) citation style.

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Zotero User Guide

Downloading Free Zotero Software

First, download Zotero 6 and the Zotero connector

You must download and install both pieces for Zotero to work! 

Zotero is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. The connector links Zotero to your web browser and to Microsoft Word. There are connectors for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge. We demo Chrome in our workshops and in this guide.

Download Zotero 6 for Windows icon  Zotero Connector download icon

If you are upgrading from an older version of Zotero, make sure to back up your old Zotero library first. 

Getting Acquainted

After installation, open Zotero then open your browser. In your browser, you will see a Zotero icon in the upper-right corner.  It might look like a Web page icon, an article icon, or a book icon. There are other icons, but those are the most common.

Shows three buttons which are: Article, Web Page, and Book

Zotero is organized into three adjustable panels.

Screen capture of three panels

view of creating new collection in My Library

The left panel organizes the groups of citations. To create a new folder in the library, right click on the "My Library" icon and select "New Collection." Whatever folder is highlighted when you begin to capture citations is the folder where the citations will be stored.





The middle panel shows a list of the citations in a folder, which users may drag and drop from one folder to another.

Screen capture of folder's list of citations


The right panel displays a close-up of an citation, allows editing of the citation, and has additional tools such as notes and tags. Click in any of the fields to edit as necessary, such as with Web page citations.

Screen capture of citation record


Notes tab circled in red with a red arrow pointing to the "Add" button. Also,  the notes under the parent citation.


The Notes tab can be very useful for taking notes as you read or hold a discussion in class about an item. Notes are unlimited and use a rich text format, so you can use options such as bold, center, etc. Each note is automatically saved to the citation it was created under and alphabetically sorts under that citation. The name is the first few words you type in the note.




icons used in the Note tab, which uses rich text file (rtf) formatting options





Tags tab circled in red with sample tags below

Tags are often imported from the database from the subjects or subject headings of that database, so don't be surprised if you see tags attached to a citation. You may add your own tags using the "Add" button. These can include your own words and phrases for subjects, the name of the professor, the class, and the quarter. Tags such as these will help you find material a quarter or more later when you have forgotten all else.




You may then search using the tags attached to the citations using Zotero's quick search.

The quick searchbox circled in red in the Zotero toolbar




related tab circled in red

The Related tab allows you to create mutual connections between citations so that each will appear in the other's Related tab. 





Subject Guide

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Lisa Bartle