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How To - Use Zotero: Organize

Organizing Resources in Zotero

References are saved to the "My Library" section of Zotero. You can further organize sources in your Zotero library by creating Collections (folders and subfolders) for different projects, papers, assignments, classes, etc.

Create a new collection

Step 1: Create a new Collection by clicking the folder with a + found at the top left of the Zotero window.

Zotero library screenshot with arrow

Step 2: Enter a name for the collection and click OK.

new collection name dialogue box


Move items into a collection

Collections are a lot like music playlists. The same reference item can appear in many different collections but are not duplicated.

Step 1: Select a resource item from the center pane.

Zotero library with one resource selected

Step 2: Click and drag the item your chosen Collection folder. 

screenshot showing selected resource being dragged into new collection folder


Other Collections

Zotero has four Special Collections by default.

  • My Publications: you can upload your own research items to share publicly
  • Duplicate Items: Items that have been added to the collection more than once will show here, making it easy to delete them.
  • Unfiled Items: Items not in a collection show up here. If you can't find a recently saved item, this is a good place to check.
  • Trash: Items that are deleted are kept for a default 30 days in the Trash collection, just in case you change your mind. 


Use Tags to organize items

Tags are often included when the source has subject terms or keywords listed as part of its citation information. You can also create your own tags and then use them for custom searches in your Zotero library. Tags can also be color-coded. To create a tag, follow these steps:

Step 1: Select the research item you would like to tag. Then in the right pane, select Tags and click the Add button.

screenshot showing selected item and arrow to Add a tag

Step 2: Enter the name of the new tag and press Enter.

screenshot showing Tags list and new tag field


Using Tags to search

The tag search feature is in the bottom left box. Simply scroll through and click on a tag, or type the name of a tag into the search box, and then click on the tag you want.

screenshot indicating Tags box and Tags search box