Skip to Main Content


Organizing Your Resources

Zotero offers quick ways to organize your resources: Libraries, Collections, Subcollections, and Tags.  These organizational tools can help you structure your research.  They also provide a secure method to share materials in a group project.

My Library

When you first create a Zotero account, the program assigns a "My Library" group to your account:

"My Library" contains records for all the material that you include in your Zotero library, sorted alphabetically by title.

You cannot change the name of "My Library."

Under My Library, you may see other icons with designations like "My Publications," "Duplicate Items," "Unfiled Items," and "Trash." These are tools to help with database maintenance.

When you add items to your library without adding them to a Collection, they will appear when you highlight "My Library" and when you highlight "Unfiled Items."  If you add them to a Collection, they will remain in "My Library", but will no longer appear in "Unfiled Items."

Adding items to a "Collection" allows you to organize and personalize "My Library."  Unlike "My Library," "Collections" can have meaningful names that you create, and only the material that you will need for any particular project.

To create a collection, start by highlighting "My Library" and clicking the folder icon immediately above left:

The New Collection window will pop up. Type in the name you will use for this collection - in this case "Thesis":

When you click "OK," your library will display the Collection Under "My Library":

To add items to this collection, open "My Library," highlight the items you will need for your project, and drag them to the Collection icon at the right. When you click on the collection name, they will appear as a discrete list.  They still appear in "My Library," but they are now more easily searched to generate bibliographies and to cite in a paper. 


While the "Collections" folders may be enough to organize individual papers, for larger research projects, "Subcollections" are a good idea.  Subcollections can be designated for research components, such as "Introduction" or "Lit Review."  If you add a Subcollection for every part of your document, you can keep your sources organized with the same structure as your research paper or thesis.

To add a Subcollection, right-click the "Collection" folder.  A pop-up will appear:

Click New Subcollection, and follow the same routine you did with your Collection. Give it a name, and add sources from "My Library."

NOTE: When you add an item to a Subcollection, it does not automatically appear in the Collection.  For this to happen, you must select "Show Items from Subcollections" in the "View" menu.  Selecting "Show Items from Subcollections" will be applied to every Collection in your library, but you can easily turn it on or off at any time.