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How can I import from Citavi?

The best format for importing records from Citavi into Zotero is Citavi XML. This format will import the item bibliographic metadata, as well as quotations, tasks, attachments, etc. The import translator was written for Citavi 5 and adapted to work also for Citavi 6, just replace in the following description each occurrence of '5' with a '6'.

Citavi XML format

  1. In Citavi create a backup of your project. This option is in the “File” menu.
  2. The backup is saved in a file with the file ending with ctv5bak and lies normally in your home directory under Documents\Citavi 5\Backup, i.e. follow this format C:\Users\<username>\Documents\Citavi 5\Backup\<projectname>. Alternatively, you can look up the backup folder under Tools / Options / Folders and there click on “Open folder with Windows Explorer”, see
  3. The ctv5bak file is a zip file, which cannot be processed directly. You must first unzip it and continue with resulting unzipped file.
  4. Rename the resulting *.ctv5 file into a *.xml file.
  5. To import attached files e.g. PDFs into Zotero, you have to make sure that they are in the same folder as the xml file you are importing. Citavi will save all attachments in the project folder, i.e. C:\Users\<username>\Documents\Citavi 5\Projects\<projectname>\Citavi Attachments. Copy them from there.
  6. Import the xml file in Zotero.


  • Nested collections in Citavi will not be nested anymore in Zotero. However, the numbers for the collections names should represent the nesting and adjusting this then manually should be easy.
  • PDF annotations will not be imported from the xml file. However, you can save the annotations into the PDFs itself in Citavi before you start the Zotero import.

RIS format (alternative)

As an alternative to the above procedure, you can export your Citavi library in the RIS format. This format will only retain item bibliographic metadata. Any additional item elements, such as citations from the “knowledge management” functionalities in Citavi, will not be included.

kb/import-from-citavi.txt · Last modified: 2018/08/27 08:54 by zuphilip