I have bibliographies in Microsoft Word documents, PDFs, and other text files. Can I import them into my Zotero library?

Citations inserted using a reference manager

For Microsoft Word “.docx” documents with Zotero or Mendeley citation fields that were inserted with the Word plugins from these reference managers, you can use Reference Extractor.

If you still have the references in a reference manager, you can export them from this program to a file format for exchanging bibliographic metadata, such as RIS or BibTeX, and then import this file into Zotero.

Citations inserted using Microsoft Word's built-in citation feature

You can follow these steps to format the bibliography as BibTeX, which Zotero can import:

  1. Save the stylesheet to Word's bibliography styles folder:
    1. Windows:
      C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\<Office version>\Bibliography\Style
    2. Mac: Go to the Applications folder. Right-click on Microsoft Word and choose “Show Package Contents”. Navigate to:
      Content/Resources/Style
  2. In Word, change your bibliography style to “BibTeX export” and copy the bibliography to the clipboard.
  3. Use Zotero's Import from Clipboard function.
Plain-text citations and bibliographies

If the references have ISBNs, DOIs, or PubMed IDs, you can also use the Add Item by Identifier function in Zotero to quickly add these items to your Zotero library.

You can parse plain-text bibliography references using AnyStyle, an online bibliography parser that can be trained for improved results. Export parsed citations as BibTeX or CiteProc/JSON and import into Zotero. Additional plain-text reference parsers are listed below.

Otherwise, your best option is to find the items online in a repository that Zotero supports, or, as a last resort, manually enter the references.

Alternative plain-text reference parsers:

  1. cb2Bib: A tool that will take formatted references copied to the clipboard and attempts to parse them into BibTeX format, which Zotero can import.
  2. text2bib: A Web-based service by the economics department at the University of Toronto that can convert references in a text file to BibTeX format, which Zotero can import.
  3. FreeCite: An open-source tool hosted by Brown University that converts formatted bibliographies to a format that the Zotero Connector browser plugin can detect. Import detected citations using the Zotero button in your browser toolbar.
  4. Simple Text Query: A tool by CrossRef that tries to find the Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) of the journal articles, books, or chapters cited in a bibliography. If DOIs are found, you can follow the provided links to the publisher websites and import into Zotero.