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Citations in Zotero

Citations in Zotero

When you save items from your internet browser to your Zotero library, Zotero collects information that will allow you to insert your bibliography quickly.

There are a few ways to insert your bibliography: insert using the Word plugin (recommended) or copy-and-paste.

Installing McGill Guide in Zotero

Installing the McGill Guide

Zotero comes with many citation styles already pre-installed. However, if you are citing to the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (the 'McGill Guide') you will need to install it in Zotero. To install the McGill Guide:

  1. Visit the Zotero Style Repository;
  2. Search for the 'McGill Guide"
  3. Click 'Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation 9th edition (McGill Guide)'.

Inserting Citations

Insert Citation/Bibliography Using Word Plugin (Recommended)

It is strongly recommended that you insert citations and bibliography/works cited lists into your word document by using the Zotero Plugin in your word processor.

This is a better choice because it updates as you work, and you can edit the style all at once instead of manually. This is the best option if you are planning to resubmit your work to various publications that require different styles, and is also the best style for if you are inserting citations as you go. It requires a bit of effort, but it keeps your work better organized and makes it easier to update your work.

Insert Citation

1. When you have started writing your paper and you're ready to add a citation, click on the Zotero tab in your word processor (this example shows how to add citations and bibliographies using Microsoft Word) and then click "Add/Edit Citation".

Make sure you've placed your cursor where in the sentence you want to insert the citation.


2. Once you've selected "Add/Edit Citation" then a window will pop-up asking you which citation style you are using. Select the style you need, then hit "OK".


Now that you've chosen a style, a small red field will pop up in your Word document; type in the first few letters of an author you want to use, and you will see the entry in Zotero appear. Click the entry (highlighted in Blue).


Once you've clicked the title, the name of the author followed by the date will appear in the red Zotero field. Hit "Enter" on your keyboard. You should now see a footnote containing your citation. 


Inserting Multiple Citations in One Footnote

To include multiple citations in one footnote, after you have added one citation in the red Zotero bar, type in the name or author of the next citation, select it, and continue until all necessary citations are added, then click enter.  All the citations will show in one footnote. 



Including Pinpoints in Your Citations

To add pinpoint references to your citations, click on the blue item icon in the red Zotero bar.  This will open a drop down menu with pinpoint options.  Click on the "page" field to select the type of pinpoint (page, paragraph, section etc.) and enter the number.  This will add the number to the blue citation.  Click enter. 


Fixing a Mistake in a Citation

The citations that Zotero generates in "McGill Guide" style may not always be correct. This is especially true for Canadian cases and legislation.

If a citation is simply incorrect or missing data, start by making sure that the item metadata in your Zotero library is correct and complete, and then click Refresh in the word processing plugin to update your document with any changes.

However, if a citation is incorrectly formatted or the wrong information has been included, then the problem may lie in the way that Zotero has been programed to generate Canadian legal citations. The only way to address this kind of error is to edit the citation directly in the Word document.

To edit a citation directly in a Word document, click the footnote and make the necessary changes.  

After you make a manual edit, click the 'refresh button' in the Zotero tab. This will cause a pop-up window to appear asking you to confirm that you want to keep the edit and prevent the citation from being updated automatically going forward. Click 'Yes'. 



Note: Editing a Zotero-generated citation directly in Word will prevent Zotero from being able to update that citation later to reflect any changes made to the Zotero record. Fortunately, editing a Zotero-generated citation does not appear to impede Zotero's ability to update ibids or supras within the Word document.


(This section is borrowed with permission from Queen's Law Library "Legal Citation Management with Zotero" library guide)

Insert Bibliography

Once you have inserted one citation, you can create a bibliography or work cited list. To create a list based on the citations you have inserted, click "Add/Edit Bibliography" in the Zotero tab of your word processor. When you click this, you will see a list automatically populate at the bottom of your document.

As you add citations, your bibliography will update automatically.

To remove a citation, simply delete the in-text reference, and then click "Refresh" in the toolbar of the Zotero word tab.


Editing a Bibliography

The citations that Zotero generates in "McGill Guide" style may not always be correct. Any formatting problems that you have fixed directly in the footnotes may appear again in the bibliography.

If you need to manually edit the citations in your bibliography, you must first break the link between Zotero and the bibliography/footnotes in your document. This will prevent your edits from being overwritten by Zotero whenever your document is refreshed. Unlinking the citations in your document is a permanent step that cannot be reversed once it has been performed. Therefor it is best to do it only as a final step after you have finished writing. The steps to unlinking the citations in your document are as follows:

Step 1: Save a backup copy of your document so that you retain a copy of your document with an intact link between Zotero and the footnotes/bibliography.

Step 2: In your original document, click the “Unlink Citations” button () to disconnect it from Zotero. Doing this will convert all citations in the footnotes and bibliography to regular text.

Step 3: You can now make edits to your bibliography that will not be overwritten by Zotero.


(This section is borrowed with permission from Queen's Law Library "Legal Citation Management with Zotero" library guide)

Copy-and-Paste Bibliography

Copying and pasting your bibliography is almost as fast as the drag-and-drop method, and will allow you to select your preferred method as you copy. 

Select one or more items from your library that you want to include in your bibliography (CTRL-A to select all; Shift-and-click to select only a few). Right click on the items (CTRL-Click on Mac) and select "Create Bibliography from Items".


When you have selected "Create Bibliography from Items" you will be able to choose which citation style you want to format your bibliography or Work Cited list as. Ensure you have chosen "Bibliography" under "Output Mode". For "Output Method" select "Copy to Clipboard". This will allow you to paste the items as a list in your Word document. Hit "OK".

Once you have hit "OK" go to your Word document and place the cursor where you want your bibliography to be. CTRL-V to paste, or paste from Clipboard. You should now see your completed bibliography.

Remember, Zotero will input whatever information is attached to the item in your Zotero Library, so it's a good idea to ensure your item is correct before you copy-and-paste the bibliography into your Word document.


Creative Commons License
This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.