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Zotero for Law

Adding articles, books, webpages and more

Adding Journal Articles to Zotero

When you're doing academic research, you'll probably encounter a lot of journal articles. To keep track of which articles you've looked at and where, it's a good idea to save them. That way, you can easily find them in the future when you want to cite them in your paper.

With one click, Zotero and Zotero Connector let you easily save journal article(s) from your browser to your library. This will help you stay organized, keep track of your references and citations, and can prevent you from losing or misplacing an article!

We'll take a look at how to capture single articles, then how to capture multiple articles.


Capturing One Journal Article


1. Start by opening Zotero in your computer. Note: Zotero must be open in order to add items to your library.


2. Next, it's time to find some articles. From the library homepage, search your topic keywords to find a journal article. Click the title of an article you would like to save.



2. Once you've selected the journal article and are viewing it in your browser, you'll see an icon that looks like a tiny sheet of paper in the top right hand corner of your browser window; if you hover over it, it says "Save to Zotero".

Click that sheet of paper. Once you've clicked the sheet of paper, you'll see a small pop-up in the bottom right of the screen that says "Saving to [Folder]".

Where it saves in your Zotero depends on if you've created a collection and selected it. Don't panic if you haven't created a collection yet! Items can be moved between collections within your library.



4. Now if you go to Zotero, the journal article you saved is in your library.

Depending on the journal article you chose, Zotero will have recorded the name of the article, the author, the abstract, the date, the journal name, the volume and issue number, the DOI.

Zotero also tells you what type of item it is, to further organize your collection.



You have now added a journal article to Zotero! From here, you can add tags and notes, move the article to a different collection, export the article to Word for your bibliography, and more.



Capturing Multiple Journal Articles


Zotero also lets you capture multiple journal article in one click.

1. Let's go back to our search results, where we had the list of articles related to our keywords. Notice that in the corner (where the sheet of paper would be for the individual article) there is a small folder. Click that folder icon.


2. When you click the folder, a pop-up will appear with the titles of the journal articles from the search results. They have checkboxes next to the article name. Click the boxes of the journal articles you want to save, then click "OK".

Note: The number of articles that appear will be limited to the ones you have scrolled over/that are visible on the page. You will need to scroll down before checking the folder, to save the articles that are further down the list.

3. Once you have hit "OK" you will see the journals being saved to your collection, in the bottom right corner of your browser screen.

4. Now, looking at the collection in Zotero, you can see that all the journal articles selected are now saved to the library! 

Note: This is a fast way to select multiple items, but ensure that Zotero has collected all the pertinent information. Sometimes it will skip important areas you need for your bibliography, like the doi/URL, or the complete author name. By making sure the saved item is complete now, you will save yourself time later when you want to cite that resource.

You have now added multiple articles to Zotero! From here you can add tags and notes, move the articles to a different collection or organize them, export the articles to Word for your bibliography, and more.

Adding Books to Zotero

Adding books to Zotero is very simple and can be done in three ways:

  1. Use Zotero Connector to capture a book from a library catalog.
  2. Use an identifier like an ISBN to populate a record in your library.
  3. Enter the book information into Zotero manually. This requires more effort, as it involves inputting the title, author name, date, publisher info, and so on.

We'll examine all these options below.


Adding a Book using Zotero Connector

1. Look up the book you wish to save in the UVic Library Catalog. Once you have found it, click the title so you can see all the information about the item.



2. Once you're in the book's catalog record, you'll notice in the top right corner there is a small book icon. Click that icon to save the book to Zotero.



3. Now if you go to Zotero you'll see the book you saved from the library catalog. Check that all the necessary information has been saved, and that it is correct. 

This could include the title, the author, the date published, the edition, the place of publication and publishing house, as well as the call number for UVic, in case you need to find the item in the stacks.



Adding a Book Using "Add Item(s) by Identifier" in Zotero

If you go to Zotero, you will find that you can also add books from inside the software. This is a great option if you have a stack of books you got out from the library and you just quickly want to add them in. You'll need to identify the ISBN to perform this task.

1. Open Zotero on your computer and make sure you're in the collection you want your book to go into (i.e. Books or Research Paper ENG400)


2. At the top of the window in the toolbar, you'll see a little magic wand with a green plus symbol. If you hover over it, you'll see it says "Add Item(s) by Identifier". From here you can input the ISBN number of the book you want to add to your library.

The ISBN of a book is usually located in the first few pages at the front, usually on the back side of the title page. It will be either a 10 digit or 13 digit number. You do not need to insert the spaces, just the numbers. If you do not see it in the front part of the book, check the barcode on the back of the book; sometimes the barcode will have the ISBN number right above it.


3. Once you've entered the ISBN hit "Enter" and you'll see the details of the book in Zotero. 

Once again, the information includes: Item type, title, author(s), publisher name and place, year of publication, ISBN and call number, plus more. 


And now you've successfully added a book into Zotero by its ISBN! You can do this same action for other standard identifiers (DOIs or PMIDs). 


Adding Everything Else to Zotero

Zotero will (usually) automatically sense what type of resource you're looking at in your browser.

Checking out a painting on the Louvre's website? Zotero will know how to capture that.

Listening to a musical audio-recording? Zotero can capture that too.

Watching a streaming video from the library website? Zotero can definitely capture that.

In all these cases, you'll notice the "capture" icon in the top-right usually changes to whatever medium you are looking at; if you're watching streaming video from the library, the icon will become a video camera. If you click it, Zotero will do its best to save all the important information.

You must still double-check that it collected the correct information! Computers still make mistakes. If it did not collect all the necessary information, input that info into Zotero immediately, so you can export complete citations in the future.

Zotero and Different Item Types

Here's an example of what Zotero looks like once different item types have been saved. Notice how the icon changes to show the differences between an audio recording, a video, a painting, and a dictionary entry. This means the information captured will vary according to the item type; for instance, a definition might have less bibliographic information than a journal article.

Adding Multiple Items to Zotero

If you are browsing the search results within the library catalog, or within a journal or database, Zotero will allow you to save time by selecting multiple items in one click.

You'll notice the icon in the taskbar changes to a folder. If you click that folder, a pop-up will appear that lets you select many results and save them all at once.


Note: Sometimes saving multiple items in this way can result in missing information (no DOI; missing punctuation). Always double-check your citations when using a reference manager like Zotero.

Check out the pictures below to see what different search results look like with Zotero.


1. Library Search (Search Tab) from UVic Libraries Website

This is what the results of a Library Search search would look like. The resources are all different (e-book, book, journal article, etc.) but all are able to be selected via the folder button to be saved to Zotero. 


2. Catalog Search (Books & Media Tab) from UVic Libraries Website

A search in the catalog will pull up books and journals from the collection. If you want to save multiple books at a time, the proces is the same; simply click the folder, then select which books you want to save. 


3. Database Search from UVic Databases

You can also save items from one specific database. Below are the search results from Academic Search Complete. Once again, clicking the folder will generate a list of the resources that can be saved to Zotero. 


Adding Notes, Tags, PDF's, and Related

Zotero has further tools to help you organize and add to the items in your library. For instance, if you have a book or journal article saved to your Zotero library, and you would like to leave yourself or your colleague a note regarding this resource, you can create a note and attach it to an item, or create a standalone note.

You can also attach tags to items, to indicate similarities or commonalities.

Finally, you can attach PDF's to items in your library, so they are easily accessible and located conveniently in a single place.

In this section, we will look at how to add notes, tags, and PDFs.


Adding Notes in Zotero

There are two types of notes and two ways to add notes in your Zotero library. The first note type is a child note; this note is attached to an item in your library. The second note type is a Standalone Note; this note lives in your library and is not attached to an item. 

1. To add a child note, make sure you have selected the item you want to attach the note to.

2. There are two ways to create a child note:

  • Click the "New Note" button, in the top toolbar. In the drop-down, you will be able to select "Add Child Note". This is the method by which you would add a Standalone Note to your library as well.
  • Select the item in your library, go to the right pane, and click the "Notes" tab; click the button that says "Add" to create a note for that item.


3. Once you have clicked "Add Note", a blank window will appear with the tools you need to format your note. See the picture below for an example of how you can format your notes.


Congratulations! You have successfully added a note to your Zotero library.


Adding Tags in Zotero

Tags are easily added through the "Tags" tab in the top of the right window, or at the bottom of the "Notes" tab. Tags must be attached to an item in your library; there is no standalone tag like there is a standalone note.


Once you have added one tag, simply click "Add" to create more for the item. In the bottom left corner of the Zotero window there is a small area where you can view all the tags within your library, and even look individual tags up. Some items you save from the internet come with their own tags, which you can either keep or delete.


Adding PDFs in Zotero

Zotero can also hold PDFs of the items you have saved using the Connector. Often, the PDF of a journal article will automatically be attached to the item in your Zotero library, but if it is missing you can add it yourself, or you can add a PDF that you think is related.

1. Right-click on the item in your library that you would like to add the PDF to. Go to "Add Attachment" and then select "Attach Stored Copy of File".


2. Find the saved article you wish to attach to the Zotero item. Select it, and hit "Open".


3. Now you will see that the PDF has been attached to the item in your Zotero Library!

Adding Cases

You can add cases to Zotero using the Zotero Connector, or by adding a case in manually.  

The Zotero Connector does not always recognize a case, and you will have to edit the item type in Zotero and add in the missing information into the fields. 

Adding a case from CanLII

In CanLII, the Zotero Connector recognizes cases with a scales icon.  Click on the icon to download the citation information into your Zotero library.  


If Zotero detects parallel citations, they will be added to the item in a notes field. 


The Zotero case template is based off of information needed for US citations, and provides fields necessary to cite one print reporter.  This means it is lacking fields necessary for Canadian legal citation, such as neutral citation or multiple parallel citations.  If a neutral citation is not available, the McGill Guide 10th ed recommends using a CanLII citation.  To input the information necessary for a neutral citation or CanLII citation:

  1. Save the case name in the "case name" field
  2. Save the entire neutral or CanLII citation in the "court" field.  For a CanLII citation, include the jurisdiction and court level in brackets at the end.
  3. Delete information in the "date decided", "reporter", "reporter volume" and "page" fields

Neutral Citation example

CanLII Citation example


Print reporter

If no neutral or CanLII citation exists, a reporter citation and a parallel citation is necessary.  Fill in the reporter information in the fields for date, reporter, reporter volume, and first page.  Include the jurisdiction and court level in paratheses after the number in the "first page" field. 


Create a note to record any parallel citations. 


Adding a case from Lexis or Westlaw

The Zotero Connector does not recognize cases in Westlaw or Lexis as cases, and instead saves them as web pages.  To save a case to Zotero from Westlaw or Lexis, follow these steps: 

  1. Click on the Zotero Connector for web page
  2. Click on the "Item Type" field under "Info" and select "case"
  3. Edit the "case name" field to include only the case name (delete reference to Westlaw or Lexis)
  4. Fill in the reporter information, or the neutral citation information as outlined above. 


STEP 1: Click on the Zotero Connector


STEP 2: Edit the Item Type


STEP 3 and 4: Edit the information to include the proper case name and necessary citation information


Adding Legislation or Regulations

The Zotero Connector does not recognize legislation on CanLII, BC Laws or Westlaw and Lexis.   The connector will save the item as a webpage, and you will need to change the item type to "Statute" and add the missing information. 

The Statute template in Zotero is formatted for US legislation, meaning that it is missing key fields for Canadian legislation citation, such as statute volume and jurisdiction. To input a statute or regulation so that it is cited correctly with McGill style, use the following steps: 

  1. Click the Zotero Connector to save the Act
  2. Edit the item type to "Statute"
  3. Save the name of the act in "Name of Act" field
  4. Save all other citation information for a statute or regulation in the "Code" field 
  5. Delete any information pulled into "date enacted" field


STEP 1: Click on the Zotero connector to save the act


STEP 2:  Edit the Item Type from Webpage to Statute



STEP 3 and 4: Ensure the name of the act is correct, and save all other citation information in the "Code' field


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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.