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Guides thématiques

Zotero : manage your references and your bibliography


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Where to collect references

  where to collect references

The main functionality of Zotero is to (semi-)automate the collection of bibliographic references as you find them.

You should preferably use reliable, verified sources:

Remember to check whether there are shared Zotero bibliographies on the subject already. It can save you precious time.

Retrieve a reference automatically from the web

retrieve a reference automatically from the web

When you are on the webpage of an item, click on the Zotero save button in your browser.

The bibliographic reference will be saved in your Zotero library, along with a screenshot of the page and the item in PDF format, if available.

The icon associated with the Zotero save button changes depending on the type of item you are looking at:

  •   book; 
  •    thesis;
  •    article;
  •    webpage;
  •    this “folder” icon allows you to retrieve a set of references and items all at once.

Be careful: If Zotero can’t recognise the item type, it will treat it as a webpage item by default. It will then be up to you to correct the item type and the bibliographic data.

Retrieve PDF metadata

retrieve pdf metadata

This feature is very useful if you built your digital library before using Zotero, or if the source is not compatible with Zotero.

Simply copy (drag) or move (drag + Shift) the PDF from your computer to Zotero.

Zotero will automatically retrieve the item’s bibliographic information. You can then close the window opened for that matter.

The PDF is renamed based on the metadata and stored in the Zotero data directory; the corresponding bibliographic reference is added to your library.

Please note: This feature works well with good quality PDFs from large publishers; but much less so with press items, for example.

collecting PDFs

collecting the pdfs associated with references

  • automatically, if the platform is compatible

The PDF will be saved in the Zotero data directory.

  • afterwards, in Zotero

Place the cursor on a reference and right click to find available PDFs.

Zotero uses unpaywall to retrieve the open access PDF for you, if it exists.

Managing RSS feeds

managing your rss feeds

Zotero also manages RSS feeds. You can subscribe to feeds and receive updates about the latest online publications in a discipline, or journal, on a research topic, or from a publisher.

You can add feeds in two ways: from the URL or from an OPML file.


  • The first option is to add a feed using the URL.

First you need to locate the RSS feeds on the websites you want to follow (blogs, journals, scholarly calendars such as Calenda, etc.), which are often indicated by an icon like this .

Then, simply copy and paste the RSS feed URL into the appropriate field in Zotero. If the URL is for a valid feed, the title will appear automatically (you can change it afterwards).

Click “Advanced Options” to adjust how frequently a feed updates and to set how long read and unread items are kept in a feed before being removed.

Once you click Save, the feed will be added to your subscriptions in Zotero.

  • The second option is useful if you already use an RSS reader

You can export an OPML file of your subscriptions and add them to Zotero all at once.

  • Reading feeds

Feeds will appear at the bottom of the left pane, under groups.

Click on a feed to view the articles currently available in the centre pane.

Clicking on an article lets you read its metadata. If you want to read the article, you will need to do so online.




You can then save the item in your library, or in a group library. Simply select the collection you want to add the item to.






Feeds won't take up your Zotero storage space: only the items added to the library from a feed will be saved.

Collecting items

The Sciences Po catalogue

the sciences po catalogue

Our new catalogue is fully compatible with Zotero, both for saving from the browser and using the Export function.

Manually adding items

manually adding items

Would you like to reference an unpublished item or your own documents?

Create a new reference, in a blank form appropriate to the item type.

   Save the PDF file, or the path to the corresponding file on your computer, whatever the format.

Import an RIS file

importer an ris file

Zotero is compatible with most formats used by other bibliography software such as Endnote, Refworks, Papers, BibTeX, etc.

So when a website is not compatible with Zotero, check if the site offers functions for exporting references in RIS format : download citation, export reference, direct export to Endnote, etc.

Download the RIS file to your computer and then import it to Zotero via File > Import.

List of identifiers

import a list of identifiers

 This tool automatically references:

  • a book, via the ISBN (source: Worldcat) ; 
  • an article or a chapter of an e-book, via the DOI (source: Crossref) ;
  • a digital article, via the PMID (source: PubMed).

You can add several identifiers in succession:

  • separated by Shift + Enter;
  • by copy/paste from a multi-line file (csv or txt).

This feature can be very useful if you already have a list of identifiers prepared in another program (e.g., a bibliography with ISBNs in Word).

Zoom on... IdRef

zoom on Idref

IdRef enables you, from an author record (a human being or a community), to retrieve in Zotero all the publications of this author referenced in Sudoc, in Theses.fr and in Persée.

Once on the author's record, you will see the Folder iconappear in your browser.

Very useful for importing all of your favourite author's publications at once!

need help?

Contact us!

Anna Couthures-Idrizi, Sophie Forcadell, Marie Mittelette & Noémie Prevel


or come to the research library (no appointment necessary)

Thursday from 12 pm to 4:30 pm // Wenesday, 12 pm to 13:30 pm, 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm

Dernière mise à jour: Jan 3, 2024 1:52 PM