ZoteroBib FAQ

General#

What is ZoteroBib?#

ZoteroBib is a free service that helps you build a bibliography instantly from any computer or device, without creating an account or installing any software. It’s brought to you by the team behind Zotero, the powerful open-source research tool recommended by thousands of universities worldwide, so you can trust it to help you seamlessly add sources and produce perfect bibliographies.

How much does it cost?#

Nothing! ZoteroBib is completely free and ad-free.

I already use another site to generate bibliographies. Why should I use ZoteroBib?#

We created ZoteroBib because we thought there should be a bibliography tool that was free, easier and faster to use, and much more accurate.

Unlike other tools, ZoteroBib doesn’t bombard you with ads or try to charge you (or your school) money for full functionality or additional citation styles. And since it’s built by the team behind Zotero and backed by the same open-source community, you can count on the same expertise and attention to detail that people rely on when they write dissertations and scholarly papers in Zotero.

Should I use ZoteroBib or Zotero?#

ZoteroBib and Zotero are both free, open-source tools created with the goal of helping people manage their research. Use whichever one is right for you!

If you just need to create a one-off bibliography for a paper, ZoteroBib is the quickest and easiest way to do it.

If you’re working on a longer-term project, want to build up a research library to use across multiple projects, or need to collaborate with others, Zotero offers many more features:

What citation styles can I use?#

ZoteroBib supports over 9,000 CSL styles, including popular styles such as APA, MLA, and Chicago/Turabian. These are the same styles used in Zotero, and we work hard to make sure they stay up to date with style guide recommendations and publisher requirements. Citations are generated by citeproc-js, the same sophisticated citation engine used in Zotero.

Where is my bibliography stored?#

Your bibliography is stored in your browser’s local storage by default. You can close the page and return to it later, and your bibliography will still be there — no need to worry about saving your data or logging in.

If you want to load your bibliography on another computer, you can use Link to this version to upload a copy to zbib.org and generate a link that you can use to retrieve that version of your bibliography later. (We recommend storing the link in the document you’re working on so you have everything in one place.) Once you’ve generated a link and stored it safely, you can click Delete All if you want to remove the bibliography from the current computer.

Link to this version is also great for sharing the bibliography with someone else. They’ll see a clean, read-only version, which they can choose to load into the editor if they want to make changes. (If you need to collaborate on a project, we highly recommend using Zotero, which lets you easily create shared research libraries. It’s free too!)

Further changes you make are not uploaded unless you use Link to this version again, which will generate a new URL.

Note that if you’re using private/incognito mode in your browser, your bibliography will be deleted as soon as you close the window, so if you choose to use private browsing be sure to periodically use Link to this version and save the URL.

How long is my bibliography stored?#

Bibliographies are stored in your local browser storage until you delete them or clear your browser’s cache. If you’re using private/incognito mode in your browser, your bibliography will be deleted as soon as you close the window. Note that some system-cleaning tools might clear the browser storage, and some browsers offer to do so as well as part of a refresh process.

If you’re worried about losing your bibliography, use Link to this version to upload a copy to zbib.org, and then save the link. Each uploaded version is stored for at least six months from when it was created or last viewed.

Is my data private?#

ZoteroBib and Zotero were created with the philosophy that your research data belongs to you and should be kept secure and private by default.

Your ZoteroBib bibliography is stored on your own computer and isn’t accessible to others by default.

If you use Link to this version, your current bibliography will be uploaded to zbib.org and be available to anyone you choose to share the link with for at least six months. No identifying information about you is stored with the bibliography. If you view an uploaded bibliography, the URL may be stored in your browser’s history.

When you add items using the search bar, your search is sent to zbib.org for processing. We log your IP address, browser version, and search terms for a short period of time in order to maintain the service and prevent abuse.

Other than the web requests necessary to complete your search, which contain the data you enter into the search box, we do not share any data with third parties.

Usage#

How do I add entries to my bibliography?#

The easiest way to add an item to ZoteroBib is by pasting in a URL. Just open a new browser tab, find what you’re looking for, and copy the page’s URL from your browser’s address bar into ZoteroBib. ZoteroBib can automatically extract bibliographic data from newspaper and magazine articles, library catalogs, journal articles, sites like Amazon and Google Books, and much more.

If saving from a URL doesn’t work, or you have a book, printout, or PDF that you can’t easily find online, you can copy or type in an ISBN, DOI, PubMed ID, or arXiv ID. Nearly all books include an ISBN on the back cover or in the first few pages, and most recent published articles will include a DOI in the online listing and on the first page. Adding by identifier helps ensure that you’re adding the correct version, which is particularly helpful for books with multiple editions.

You can also search for books and articles by title (and optionally author, year, and publisher) — just be sure to review the results to make sure you’re adding the right version.

If all else fails, you can enter item details by hand by clicking Manual Entry.

How do I add parenthetical citations or notes to my paper?#

As you write, ZoteroBib can help you quickly generate parenthetical citations (APA, MLA) or footnotes/endnotes (Chicago, Turabian) for the specific quotes, facts, or ideas you’re including into your paper. Just click the copy icon next to an entry in your bibliography, enter the relevant page range or section of the source that you’re citing, and click Copy Citation or Copy Note. You can then paste the citation into your paper.

For styles such as APA and MLA, if you incorporate an author’s name into a sentence (“As Smith writes…”), you can use the “Omit Author” option to include only a date and/or page number in the parenthetical citation (“(2015, pp. 12–13)”).

How do I add a completed bibliography to my paper?#

If you’re using a word processor, you can simply click Copy to Clipboard and paste the formatted bibliography into your document.

With certain combinations of citation styles and word processors (e.g., LibreOffice), some of the formatting may become mangled when you export via the clipboard. In those cases, select Download RTF from the Export drop-down to download a formatted document that you can open in your word processor.

If you’re adding your bibliography to a webpage, you can use Copy HTML to copy HTML markup that you can embed in the page.

How can I export my bibliography to a reference manager?#

Select Download RIS or Download BibTeX to download a data file that can be imported into any reference manager. If you’re using Zotero and the Zotero Connector (which we recommend!), just click the Save to Zotero button in your browser’s toolbar.

Troubleshooting#

I’m getting an error trying to add an item. What do I do?#

Some sites have restrictions that prevent ZoteroBib from working, or they’re designed in such a way that a URL can’t be used to retrieve a given page. Try a different site, or paste in an ISBN, DOI, or other identifier instead.

In a pinch, you can always enter metadata manually, though that should rarely be necessary.

I added an item but the data is wrong or incomplete. How can I correct it?#

While ZoteroBib is able to extract high-quality metadata from a wide variety of sources, you should always check your entries to make sure they’re correct. In some cases it may be necessary to manually edit an entry to clean up what’s there or add additional fields.

If there’s a site for which ZoteroBib consistently returns incorrect results, let us know and we’ll do our best to fix it.

Why are all the proper nouns in my entries in lowercase when I use APA style?#

APA style requires titles to be in sentence case rather than title case. When you use APA style, ZoteroBib will partially convert the titles of entries to sentence case for you, but you’ll need to manually edit some entries to capitalize proper nouns:

Title case: Circadian Mood Variations in Twitter Content

ZoteroBib conversion: Circadian mood variations in twitter content

Sentence case: Circadian mood variations in Twitter content

(We know this is annoying, but we think it’s less annoying than manually lowercasing all the other words in titles. Some other tools simply ignore this requirement and generate incorrect, title-cased “APA” bibliographies, but we assume that when you say you want APA you mean it.)

What if I can’t find a style that I need?#

If you can’t find the style you need just by searching, you can browse the Zotero Styles Page or the CSL visual editor for style previews and then return to ZoteroBib to install the style.

If you’re still not able to find what you’re looking for, you can request a new style.

What if the bibliography doesn’t match the style?#

Styles are carefully maintained to stay up to date with style guide recommendations and publisher requirements. If you think something’s wrong, first click on the entry and make sure all the data is entered correctly — it’s sometimes necessary to make corrections or add additional fields after adding an item. If all the data is there, check the style guidelines to make sure it says what you think it says. (Unfortunately, teachers are sometimes wrong about style requirements, so be sure to check the guidelines.)

If you still think there’s a mistake, you can report it in the Zotero Forums or just make manual changes to the bibliography before you submit it.

Something else isn’t working. How can I get help?#

Sorry about that! You can post to the Zotero Forums and we’ll be happy to help. (You’ll need to create a Zotero account first.) Since these forums are shared with Zotero, be sure to mention ZoteroBib in the post title so it’s clear what you’re referring to.