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File Format
Name Zotero

Zotero is a tool for organizing research information, including web pages, documents, and books, and generating bibliographies and reference citations in standardized formats. It has been released as a standalone program and as a browser plug-in for Firefox, and there are also add-ons to interface with popular word processing software to allow references to be inserted in your own documents. With Zotero connected to your browser, you can capture web pages, saving a "snapshot" of the current page (HTML, images, etc.) and storing reference info such as title, URL, and date accessed; for some sites, including Wikipedia, it can also find additional citation information from page metadata. Other references can be created by entering the ISBN of a book or the DOI of a paper, which get looked up to find the bibliographic information. You can also add files from your computer, which you can then open from Zotero later.

A variant version, CitationStylist, adds multilingual support, and also got into a bit of conflict by adding support for legal citations of the Harvard Bluebook style, which has its copyright vigorously protected by its owners (even though they're a coalition of nonprofit educational institutions) who don't want to allow any third-party derivative works, despite the fact that its citation style is specifically required by many courts for citations in legal filings.


File storage

The native storage of the reference data is in an SQLite database. The various files of "snapshotted" web pages are also saved in subdirectories. The exact location of the data will depend on whether you're using the standalone or browser plugin version, as well as your operating system, but in the Firefox plugin as installed in Windows 7 it looks like this:

  • \Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\profile-dir\zotero\: Directory where Zotero files are stored
    • zotero.sqlite: Main SQLite file
    • zotero.sqlite-journal: SQLite journal file
    • zotero.sqlite.bak: Backup of previous version of main SQLite file
    • locate: Subdirectory with info about search engines hooked into Zotero
      • engines.json: JSON file with search engine info
      • There may also be graphical icons connected with the search engines in this directory
    • storage: Subdirectory with files saved from web pages, with one (cryptically-named) subdirectory per page.
    • styles: Subdirectory with templates (in Citation Style Language, an XML-based format with .csl extension) for bibliographic reference styles
    • translators: Subdirectory with JavaScript code files to translate references from various citation formats

File import and export

Zotero can link to any sort of file on the computer it's running on or on the Web as reference documents. It also has the ability to import reference lists in the form of some standard bibliographic styles including BibTeX. It can output its reference lists in several different formats including BibTeX, JSON, RDF, and Netscape bookmarks.

Sample files


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