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A Cautionary Note

While citation generators are a great time-saver, you still need to verify and check information in references in your account as well as in the final document. It is much easier and faster to check for errors as you are importing references into Zotero rather than waiting to correct the errors in your final word processing document.

Here are some issues to watch for:


Title Capitalization Errors

Most databases use inconsistent title capitalization. Sometimes a title will be exported from a database:

  • In Title Case Like This    [or]
  • In sentence case like this

In order for Zotero to format the title correctly for any citation style, you want the title of the reference in your Zotero Library in Sentence case, that is, with the first letter of the title capitalized as well as any proper nouns or acronyms.

Example for an article title: Common core standards for English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects.

To easily create sentence case:

  • Right-click (or control-click for Mac users) on the title field.  You can then choose to have the title in Title Case or Sentence case.

book title in Zotero showing something in Title Case -- right click to change to Sentence case

  • This is also a good time to manually clean up any "junk" that is in the wrong field -- above, notice how the authors' names are entered incorrectly in the Title field, as well as correctly in the Author and Contributor fields. Click in the field again and use the keyboard to correct the entry.
  • Then, manually capitalize any proper nouns that remain in lower case. Zotero does not automatically recognize all proper nouns.

the above record, correct to sentence case capitalization


Italicizing Scientific Names, Words in a Foreign Language, or Titles within Titles

Binomial (scientific) names, foreign language words and phrases, or titles of another work within a title need to be italicized when Zotero exports the final citation into a text document. Zotero does not automatically recognize italics when importing records. 

  • In Zotero Standalone, click on the field of the reference where the italics should be
  • Put the HTML tags <i> </i> around anything that you want italicized
    • The Zotero record will show the HTML tags, but the tags do not show up when the citation is inserted into a word document, or if you copy and paste (or drag and drop) the citation into a text document.

image of a record in Zotero, highlighting the <i> and </i> tags around the italicized part of the title

This article title displays italics correctly when inserted into a text document:

Yang, F., Qureshi, J. A., Leonard, B. R., Head, G. P., Niu, Y., & Huang, F. (2013). Susceptibility of Louisiana and Florida populations of Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) to pyramided Bt corn containing Genuity®Vt Double ProTM and SmartstaxTM traits. Florida Entomologist, 96(3), 714–723.


  • A book title in APA, MLA, or Turabian already is italicized. So using these tags in the Title Field for a book will reverse the italics, as is correct:

 image of a book record in zotero, highlighting the <i> and </i> tags


The book title displays italics and reverse italics correctly when inserted in a text document:
Applegate, C. (2005). Bach in Berlin: Nation and culture in Mendelssohn’s revival of the St. Matthew Passion. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Next Steps:

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