Adding Zotero to the catalogue

Lise Summers Wednesday, October 31, 2018 - 14:13

Zotero is open source referencing software which can be added to your browser (Firefox and Chrome are the preferred browsers) to capture the title and other details from online resources and catalogues. Created by the team at the Roy Rosenzweig Centre for History and New Media , Zotero is one of a number of open source projects for use by researchers and historians. One of our amazing volunteers has worked long and hard to create a Zotero translator for the catalogue, which will help with formatting citations. You can set up an online library of citations, backed up by George Mason University in the United States and available from any internet connected computer, or you can save it to your own system or to a USB drive. This gives you a lot of flexibility in keeping your references together.


Referencing and citation of State Archives

Questions about citations and referencing can be a cause of confusion for both staff and researchers. The first answer – it depends – seems unhelpful, but is the best we can do without more information.

What are you citing? Is it for a specific journal or for something you are writing for your own use? Are you looking at something we have written or something from our listings. All these options are covered in our information sheet on referencing .

However, if you are using a particular referencing style such as Harvard or Chicago, or have a specific journal you are working on. Referencing software, like Endnote, Mendeley and Zotero can help with formatting, as can the inbuilt referencing software in Microsoft Word.


Using Zotero

New users can download the Zotero browser addon and plugins from the Zotero site

If you are already an experienced Zotero user :

download automatically when the Zotero desktop application is next started.  

in the browser (eg. Firefox), view Add-ons, then Extensions, and click Zotero Preferences ; there is an Update Translators button on the Advanced tab.

run a "Reset Translators" from their Zotero desktop Preferences panel (see Advanced tab: Files & Folders)


Firefox and Chrome browsers are supported.  However, Safari (12.0, the recent release) is not at present— watch this blog for further news —


Once you have Zotero installed, you will either see a Z icon on the far right of your screen, or an image for a particular referencing format, e.g.

(fig.1 Zotero Website icon on Firefox)

Click on the icon, and the description will be saved to your Zotero library. By default, the description will save in the manuscript format.



downloads a single Series, Item, Piece, Element, Page.

for a single page of search results, offers a list from which you select one, some, or all, entries to download.

— choses one date as the item date (preference is for latest date, and Creation over Accumulation)

— adds the Accumulation and Creation date ranges as notes, so that users can subsequently edit the downloaded entry and select the date they prefer.

downloads any attached digital object.

Series and Agency Titles are converted to 'title case'.


Please install and test for yourselves. Try:

go to the entry for a single item.

run a search that returns many items. Download an item from the first page of results.

download an item from a subsequent page of results.

run an advanced query.


You can save an item or a series. Saving a series will enable you to later save items to a series as related references (very handy for bibliographies!)


(Fig. 4 – Series description)

Creating citations

You can make links between series and items in your Zotero library using the Related tag, and update or change the format with maps and letters or create notes. You can even record your online request number in the notes field so you know when you looked at the original item. And, at the end of the day, you can insert citations in your work, in the required referencing format, and create a bibliography. Use the Zotero 'cite and write' icons in your favourite word processing software,e.g.

(fig.5. Zotero cite and write, with endnote references and bibliography in Chicago)