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Library Services




Guide to using Zotero reference management software

Managing full text documents

PDF documents are automatically retrieved when you use the Zotero Connector, this is the best way to add items to your library. However, if you have PDF files already saved on your computer and you want to add them to your library, Zotero Desktop can create a bibliographic record from the PDF.

Simply drag the file into Zotero library central pane, this is also the easiest way to attach a PDF file of an article to its corresponding entry in your library:

  • Drop a file onto a collection, or in between library items, and Zotero will copy it into your library as a standalone item. 
  • Drop the file onto an existing item and Zotero will attach it to that item. 

You can also attach files to an existing item in this way:

  • Click on the paperclip icon at the top of the central pane.
  • Then select Attach Stored Copy of File.

Paperclip icon screenshot

Annotating PDF attachments

If you want to extract the text that you have highlighted on a PDF file, you will need to download a Zotero plugin called ZotFile.  

  • Download the file from and save it to your desktop.
  • Open Zotero, go to Tools and select Install Add-on From File.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions.
  • Re-start Zotero.
  • Check to see that ZotFile Preferences appears under Tools.‚Äč If it appears in the list, you have successfully installed the plug-in.

Extracting annotations from PDF files

You can extract annotations you've made on a PDF file, in order to do so you will have to download Zotfile first, if you haven't  downloaded already.

To extract annotations:

  • Right-click on the PDF document, which contains your annotations.
  • Select Manage Attachments then Extract Annotations.
  • Your annotations will appear on the right hand-side panel.

Desktop extract annotations screenshot