Skip to Main Content

Library and Learning Services

Zotero: Organizing References

Reference management application designed to store and manage references.


Folder Icon

An easy way to visually organize your references is to create folders and subfolders. To add a folder, click the manila folder icon under the File menu and name it. You can also create folders with that folder by dragging and dropping folders into it.



Zotero has a tagging feature where you can further categorize and label your items. Frequently, Zotero will automatically add tags based on the subject terms of the reference.

Assign Color

Automatic tags can be hidden from the tag selector by clicking the multi-color button in the lower-right corner of the tag selector and unchecking “Show Automatic”. You can delete all automatic tags from a library by clicking “Delete Automatic Tags in This Library”. To prevent Zotero from adding automatic tags, uncheck “Automatically tag items with keywords and subject headings” in the General pane of Zotero preferences.

Add Tags

To add tags to a reference, select the reference and click the Tags tab.

Related Items


In addition to collections and tags, a third way to express relationships between items is by setting up “relations”. Relations can be set up between any pair of items in a library (it is not possible to relate items from different libraries).

Some suggestions of how you could use this feature:

  • connect book chapters to their parent volume
  • connect book reviews to the book reviewed
  • link items that form parts of a single work (e.g., articles in a series)
  • link one item to another discussed in the Abstract or Notes fields
  • connect different versions of a work (e.g., connecting a conference presentation that eventually became an article and then eventually became a book)

Add Related Items

To create a relation, select an item in the center pane and go to the “Related” tab of the right pane. Click the “Add” button, and select one or more items from the same library in the pop-up window and click “OK”. The selected items will now show up as related items in the “Related” tab, and clicking an item will take you straight to that item.