Your article, your footnotes: getting started with Zotero

These days you may have to submit an article to one of a number of journals, each of whom uses a different format for footnotes.  To cope with this foolishness, it’s a good idea to have all your references in a database somewhere, and insert them into your paper in Microsoft Word using {field} tags, or something like that.  The exact format inserted is controllable by the database software.

This is what Zotero is: a database for articles, plus a Word plugin (“connector”), and a web-browser plugin so that you can add the complete data for your article – journal, year, pages, etc –  to your database from Google Scholar by a couple of clicks.

It helps a lot if someone shows you how it’s done.  The best way to find out is to use YouTube, and pick short videos (I hate video myself).  If you are lucky, you will have a SmartTV in your house, which is connected to your Wifi and has a YouTube app (which is what I did).  If not, you can still use Youtube on your PC.

Here’s your first video, about 4 minutes long: Getting started with Zotero using Zotero standalone.  This shows you how to install.  Do watch it, even if you think you know; it has a couple of tricks.

After that, you have Zotero Standalone, you have Zotero’s plugin in Word, and also in your browser (I used Google Chrome).

Next is a 2 minutes video Zotero Word Plugin.  This shows you how to insert footnotes into your document.  (If you choose the Chicago Style, rather than the one they choose, you will get footnotes, rather than inline references.)  (This is another of the same kind, about 5 mins).

After that, you will want to know how to get articles and books into your database of articles.  Google Scholar is the answer!   There’s a page on the Zotero site, Getting Stuff Into Zotero, with a 5 minute video at the top (which I haven’t found in YouTube yet).

Basically you search for your article in google scholar.  You have an extra icon at the top right of your browser, Chrome (or whatever).  So when Google Scholar comes back with a list of results, including the article you want, hit that icon and you’ll get the list of results in a box.  Check the one you want, and it’s saved!

There are many other sites you can use it with.  It works with COPAC, for books.  But for articles, at the moment the only source of references that I know about is Google scholar.  There are others, I believe.  Anyone care to list some?