Answered By: Caltech Research Librarians
Last Updated: Sep 12, 2017     Views: 23

Items in Zotero libraries can be organized by collections and tags.

  1. Collections allow you to group items together as you see fit. Collections appear on the left hand side of the interface under 'My Library.' Any item can be assigned to more than one collection. Just drag and drop an item onto the collection(s) you want that item to be associated with.

  2. Tags (also called “keywords” in other programs) allow you to describe an item in more detail. You can add multiple tags to an item. Tags are also searchable.

Why use collections and tags?

Collections are the primary way to pull together related items. For example, if your library has numerous items on the topic 'predatory journals,' they could all be assigned to a collection called 'Predatory Journals.' When it comes time to write your paper on that topic, you can then prepare your bibliography based on just the items in that collection.

Tags are a way to tease out a particular attribute that exists on items across multiple collections. You can retrieve all items with that tag by searching. For example, a tag 'peer reviewed' might be assigned to items in your 'Predatory Journals' collection as well as other items in other collections.

Please be aware that if you export your Zotero library, tags will be retained but collections will not. Go to for detailed instructions.


Part or all of this answer is adapted from Zotero wiki content distributed under various Creative Commons licenses found at Additional content may have been adapted from the Zotero LibGuide by Jason Puckett and licensed by Georgia State University Library under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License.