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An in-depth guide to using Zotero.

About Editing

I thought Zotero was accurate, why would I need to edit my references?

While Zotero has a high degree of accuracy, no automatic tool is 100% accurate. Errors can occur if the data provided by the hosting webpage is incorrect or if Zotero encounters its own error. For that reason, you will likely need to edit references occasionally. Every field within Zotero can be edited by simply clicking within the field and typing in the correct information. The boxes that follow describe some of the most common fields that you might need to edit.

Can I just edit the bibliography on my paper instead of fixing the references in Zotero?

No! You should always fix any errors within Zotero itself and then recreate the bibliography (See the Creating Bibliographies page for more on bibliographies).This will ensure that any future references will be correct. Further, if you are using the in-text citation method which automatically generates the bibliography, you must fix any errors within Zotero itself because the bibliography constantly pulls its data from Zotero. It might look like you've fixed it on your paper, but the error will simply reappear the next time you save and close or refresh the document.

Editing the Item Type

The Item Type is important because this will determine how the reference will appear in your bibliography, as there are typically different style rules based on whether the reference is a book, article, website, etc. Zotero does an especially good job of recognizing when something is a journal article or a book, but doesn't always do as good of a job distinguishing websites from other types of sources, such as newspaper articles.

To change the Item Type, simply click on the text listed next to "Item Type" and click on the correct type.

Editing the Title

As with any other field, simply click in the Title field to make any changes necessary to the title. If your citation style requires either sentence case (all words start with a lowercase letter except for proper nouns and the first word of the title and subtitle) or title case (all important words are capitalized), there is a simple way to toggle back and forth.

  1. Right-click on the title field.
  2. Hover over the "Transform Text" bubble.
  3. Select Title or Sentence case based on your citation style (e.g., you would need to change from Title case to Sentence case if you are using APA style).
  4. Manually fix any capitalization issues, if necessary. For example, when changing from Title case to Sentence case, Zotero cannot recognize proper nouns or the first word of a subtitle, so this would need to be fixed manually.

Editing the Author

To add or remove authors, use the Plus or Minus signs that appear next to the author field.

To toggle between a single-name field and a two-name author field, click on the faint gray box. For example, if you need to add an author that is an entity or organization (such as the Centers for Disease Control) that doesn't follow a "last name, first name" format, you need a single field.