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Collecting Articles

First, make sure your Zotero Standalone program is open and running on your computer. Then:


Single article from database or webpage:

  • Once you have found an article using an article database, you should see an icon of a printed page that appears after the URL in your browser's address bar. Hover first to make sure it says Save to Zotero (_____) Has access to this site.

‚ÄčURL bar zotero article icon

  • Click the icon.
  • You should get a small pop-up window saying that you are adding the item to a particular folder. Change the folder if you wish.
  • That article record now appears in your Zotero library.
    • If the article is a full-text article (either HTML or PDF format), then Zotero will also capture that file and associate it with the correct item in your Zotero library.
  • Sometimes articles from the free web are misclassified as webpages rather than articles. If that is the case, go to Zotero Standalone and click on the item record. Then click on the Item Type field. That should open a dropdown menu with many options. Choose the correct one, then add in the details as needed.

zotero Item Type listed as Web Page

Multiple articles from a results list -- from databases or Google Scholar: 

  • Zotero will recognize when there is more than one citation on a webpage and an icon of a folder (rather than a printed page) will appear after the URL in your browser's address bar (see arrow). Click that.
  • Select the articles you want to capture from the pop-up box that appears (see circle).

URL bar showing the zotero folder icon

From Research @ UWW: 

If Full Text is available:

  • Follow the Full Text Available link (usually green)
  • Click on a database name to view the article's information in that database
  • Once in another database, use the Save to Zotero button in your browser as shown above. This will have the best chance of getting the PDF attached to the citation

If Full Text is not available:

  • Sometimes the icon in the URL bar will look like a book, instead of an article page, but it still works: 

image showing the zotero button for a book in the URL bar

  • Click on it to download. Then go into Zotero Standalone, click on that item's record, and verify that it is indeed listed as a Journal Article, not a Webpage or Book. If you need to change it, click on the Item Type field and choose the correct source type.

zotero record showing the Item Type field


From a saved PDF:

Have a PDF saved on your computer and don't want to look up the citation again? You can drag-and-drop: 

  • Open Zotero Standalone and your computer's File Explorer or Finder window (wherever you have the PDF saved) side-by-side on your computer screen
  • Click and drag the PDF from the File Explorer into the center panel of Zotero Standalone
  • Zotero should automatically sense the data and import it into the correct fields, with the PDF as an attachment


From a DOI: 

Have a PDF of an article in-hand and don't want to look up the citation? You can look up the citation by DOI, if the article has one.

DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier, and it is basically a stable URL (more stable than the URL from the address bar) that is attached to only that one article. Here are a few examples of what they can look like:, or 10.1111/j.1365-2400.2007.00549.x

  • In the Zotero Standalone application, click the magic wand button: "Add item by identifier." 

Add Items by identifier button in zotero

  • Enter the article's DOI or PMID number, and Zotero will automatically download its information and save it to your library.



To capture PDFs along with article citations:

• Make sure that your Zotero preferences are set correctly. 
• If an article appears in a search results list with a Find It button Find It button, click on the button to see if Andersen Library has access to the full text of the article. If so, capture the citation information from the database containing the full text. If you capture an article citation from a results list that only has the Find It button, Zotero will not see any full-text files to attach.


Next Steps:

  • Much of the auto-downloaded information that you import into any citation generator is wrong! This is true in any auto-citation generator, not just Zotero. 
  • Go to Verify References to correct it.