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Research Guides

Writing & Citing in Engineering

Zotero Workshop

Zotero (pronounced "zoh-TAIR-oh") is a free open-source tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share research. Not only can Zotero simplify your citations, it can also help you organize your reading notes.

Periodically, we offer workshops to orient students to using Zotero. This guide summarizes the content of our generic Introduction to Zotero workshop. While this guide was written for participants to use during and after the workshop, you can also follow it at your own pace for a self-guided experience.

To learn even more about Zotero, read the Library's Zotero Guide

For questions or feedback about this Zotero workshop, please contact the Engineering Library.

Workshop Objectives

This workshop will help you:

  • Save full-text references in Zotero from many different sources (e.g. directly from Zotero, from Firefox or Chrome)
  • Generate citations and bibliographies in Google Docs or MS Word
  • Organize and sync your Zotero library
  • Use the groups feature to share your research and collaborate with colleagues

Workshop Schedule

  1. Workshop Preparation
  2. Live Zotero Demonstration
  3. Install Zotero
  4. Saving Citations
  5. Creating Bibliographies
  6. Syncing and Group Libraries
  7. Workshop Wrap-up

1. Workshop Preparation

Before you attend the workshop, please complete the following:

1. Watch the video below. This video provides a quick introduction to Zotero and shows you how to download Zotero.

2. Download Zotero ( Doing so will allow you to complete hands-on activities during the workshop.


2. Live Zotero Demonstration

The workshop begins with a 5-minute demonstration to show you what Zotero can do, and why it might be helpful to you. There will be a live demo during the workshop, but you can also watch this recorded live demonstration (YouTube video) by Jason Puckett, of Georgia State University Library.

3. Install Zotero

For the best results, you should install both Zotero (the desktop program) and a Zotero Connector (a browser plug-in). Both are available on the Zotero download ( page. The Zotero Connector allows you to save references to your Zotero library directly from your internet browser.

For detailed instructions, see Install Zotero (U of T library guide) for instructions.

Try it yourself

Install and open Zotero at least once before the workshop, so that you will be able to participate in the next activities yourself, alongside the instructor.

4. Saving Citations

Zotero is able to save any reference you require for your work, including journal articles, web pages, audio recordings, and many more. The list below presents 4 methods that we will demonstrate during the workshop, presented here so that you can follow along.

  1. Via your internet browser, using the Save to Zotero button
    Try it yourself: Save a journal article from the library catalogue (we have made a sample library search for you). Now, select the Save to Zotero button, which should appear as a folder icon in the top right hand corner of your browser. Select which items you would like to save, and select ok.
  2. Add item(s) by identifier in Zotero, using the magic wand icon
    Try it yourself: In Zotero, select the magic wand icon. In the search box, enter a unique identifier for the item you are trying to add (e.g. an ISBN for a book or a DOI for a journal article).
    Try adding these references to Zotero:
       • 9781571313355, ISBN for Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
       •, DOI for Equity as Rebar: Bridging the Micro/Macro Divide in Engineering Ethics Education by Cindy Rottman and Douglas Reeve
  3. Drag and drop a PDF. Zotero will try to find information about the item and create a reference automatically.
    Try it yourself: Download this open access article written by University of Toronto Professor Greg Evan: Windmills of Your Mind: Metacognition and Lifelong Learning. Then, drag and drop the file from your computer file system into Zotero.
  4. Add an item manually in Zotero.
    Try it yourself: Select the green + icon in Zotero to reveal a drop-down menu of item types. Select journal article and fill in the appropriate information. Try manually adding this open access article written by University of Toronto Professor Greg Evan: Windmills of Your Mind: Metacognition and Lifelong Learning.

TIP: Zotero is not a perfect system and can make errors in the bibliographic information. Be sure to check the record in your Library for errors or missing information.

For more, watch the video below or read about Saving Citations (U of T library guide).


5. Creating Bibliographies

Once you have added references into Zotero, it becomes simple to insert citations and create a bibliography as you write. Zotero can be accessed directly from word processors like Word, LibreOffice, and Google Docs. If you use another text editor, chances are that someone has created a Plugin for Zotero (Zotero Documentation). Read more about creating bibliographies (U of T Library Guide).

Try it yourself: For this activity, you will need to open a new document in either Word, LibreOffice, or Google Docs. We will demonstrate 2 different methods of creating bibliographies and citations in a word processor.

  1. 'Copy-Paste' - Quick bibliographies. This method requires you to copy/paste citations and bibliography entries manually (this is the process we followed in the live demo). To create a quick bibliography, highlight items you would like to cite, right click and select the "Create Bibliography from item...". Select the preferred citation style, select the bibliography option and then Copy to Clipboard. Paste in your word document and you have created a bibliography.
  2. 'Cite-while-you-write' - Using Zotero's word processor plugins. With this method, Zotero keeps track of which items you have cited in your writing and automatically generates an up-to-date bibliography. For this activity, we will be using Microsoft Word, but the process is similar for the other word processors.

6. Syncing and Groups

If time permits, we will look Zotero's cloud storage features as well as groups. Both these features require users to register for a free user account. The account incudes 300 mb of cloud storage. We feel comfortable recommending that you sign up for a Zotero account, but we encourage you to first review Zotero's privacy and data security policies.

"Our philosophy is that what you put into Zotero is yours, and one of our founding principles is to make sure you remain in control of your data and can share it how you like — or choose not to share it at all."
-Zotero's Privacy Policy


Do you often work on different computers? Zotero can store a copy of your library online so that you can access it anywhere. Once you sync your library it can be accessed online through or on any desktop computer that has Zotero (all library computers do!).


If you're collaborating on research or coursework together, Zotero Groups allows you to share collections, PDFs and notes with shared groups.

7. Workshop Wrap-up

This workshop provided a brief overview of the basic features of Zotero. Beyond creating bibliographies, Zotero can help you in your research process. As we finish this workshop, please take a moment to consider what your next steps are for working with Zotero. Not sure? Here are some ideas:

  • This workshop has provided enough information, I don't need anything else.
  • I have tons of articles on a bunch of different topics and can't remember which I have and haven't read! I need to talk about how to organize them so that my research is more manageable. Can we talk about some organization features in Zotero?
  • I'm a Zotero convert and I want to see how I can integrate Zotero with my daily workflows. Can the library help?



Mendeley Workshop

This is a guide to the material that is covered in the Mendeley workshop/webinar.


Before the Workshop

Throughout the workshop, there will be some exercises for you to practice using Mendeley. Please complete the following steps before the workshop:

  1. Go to and create an account
  2. Download Mendeley Desktop from
  3. Install the Citation Plugin for Microsoft Word or Libre Office. Ensure that your word processor is closed before attempting to install the plugin. There will be a pop-up prompting you to install it once you have opened Mendeley Desktop. You can also open the Tools menu at the top of the program to install it (please see the image on

Also remember to fill out the quick pre-survey that was sent to you for us to know a little bit more about your expectations for the workshop and your experience.


Workshop Overview

  • Introduction 
  • Mendeley Web
  • Mendeley Desktop
  • Citation Plugin
  • Questions 


Introduction to Mendeley

Mendeley is a free citation management tool and academic social network that is used to:

  • Generate citations and bibliographies
  • Collaborate with others
  • Discover articles in your research area
  • Store and retrieve papers

It is for users who work extensively with PDFs and value social networking for sharing and discovering.

To find out more about how Mendeley is different from other citation management tools, please see


Mendeley Web

Mendeley Web is mainly used for connecting researchers. You can:

  • Get updates from personal network
  • Maintain your Mendeley profile
  • Review your personal publication statistics
  • Search and collect papers and references
  • Find and connect with researchers
  • Create and join collaborative research groups
  • Organize references
  • Receive suggestions for papers to read

A step-by-step walkthrough of Mendeley Web will be demonstrated.

Practice Exercise:

  1. Who is the author of the paper “A numerical scheme to calculate temperature and salinity dependent air-water transfer velocities for any gas?” 
  2. What is the h-index (impact measure) of the paper’s author?
  3. How many readers did the author have in 2015 according to Mendeley?


Mendeley Desktop

Mendeley Desktop is for knowledge production and management. You can:

  • Add and organize documents
  • Find and import new content
  • Read, highlight and annotate
  • Sync and store data on Mendeley servers

A live tutorial of how to perform these actions on Mendeley Desktop will be shown.

Practice Exercise:

  1. Create a new folder
  2. Add an article of your own to the folder or download an article to use such as or
  3. Make sure the details are correct and add tags to the article
  4. Highlight a section of text in the article and add a comment


Citation Plugin

The Citation Plugin is for Microsoft Word or Libre Office. Please note that you must have Mendeley Desktop installed to use the Citation Plugin. You can:

  • Insert citations from your Mendeley Library 
  • Choose from many citation styles
  • Automatically generate a bibliography
  • Share documents with Mendeley users

A demonstration of how to use the Citation Plugin will be given.

Practice Exercise:

  1. Insert the in-text citation of the article that you added to your library 
  2. Insert a bibliography
  3. Change the citation style to IEEE


Need Additional Help?

  • Help guides:
  • Help sessions are also available. To book a session, please fill out the feedback survey that will be sent to you after the workshop



Elsevier. (2020). About Mendeley. Retrieved from

Mendeley. (2019). Guides. Retrieved from

University of Michigan Library. (2020). Mendeley Basics: Overview. Retrieved from

University of Toronto Libraries. (2019). Citation management: Comparison table. Retrieved from


For questions about this workshop, please contact Peter Farrell (Engineering and Computer Science Library Graduate Student Library Assistant).