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Reference management: Save references

Save references

Most databases let you save a reference directly to your reference manager. Look for options that may say "Export", "Import" or "Save to" and choose to save to the reference manager you are using. Use Connector to quickly save ordinary web sites as references!

Different ways to save references

  • Save and export when you're using a database
  • Use Connector, the browser add-on
  • Search and save using the reference manager's own database
  • Drag-and-drop a fulltext pdf; references will (in most cases) be extracted automatically. Attn! Avoid this, especially if you need to syncronize Zotero between several computers/groups. The attached PDF files are quick to devour the free storage (300 Mb) provided by Zotero for sync and share.
  • Manual entry should not be forgotten and can be very effective

Which method should I use?
Feel your way! You won't manage using only one method as none covers all databases. More complete metadata is usually received by using the databases' dedicated "Save reference" buttons than when using the reference managers' web browser bookmarklets. Do however try Connector as that, too, will come in handy. Attn! Always make sure that the metadata is correct in the references you import!

Adding references (items) to Zotero can be done in different ways:

  1. Zotero Connector. The add-on becomes a "save button" in your browser. If you use multiple browsers, you need to install the add-on for ever browser separately. Remember to pin the add-on. Depending on where you get your reference and what type of reference it is, the button changes its appearance, e.g. an article or a book.
  2. You can add references through ISBN, DOI, or PMID. Look for the wand symbol in Zotero. You can also download/export posts in different formats from databases and upload them in Zotero.
  3. Import PDF's through drag and drop directly into Zotero.
  4. If needed, references can be added manually, e.g. book chapters. Click on the green circle with a white plus sign in Zotero and fill in the needed information.


  • Some sites are saved as "Generic webpages”, this happens when Zotero is unable to read the necessary information from the site.
  • If the Connector button is shown as a folder it means that you can save several references at once. 
  • Zotero must be open on your computer for the import to work. Be mindful that you check and, if needed, complete the information in the references after import.

More information:


Tags sometimes follow with downloaded items but can also be added manually. With the help of tags you can easily find items within a specific subject area or theme.


You can create collections (folders) for your different projects. Right click My Library and select New Collection. You can also create Subcollections by right clicking a collection.