Collections all hierarchical organization of items into groups and subgroups. Collections are useful for filing items in meaningful groups (e.g., items for a particular project, from a specific source, on a specific topic, or for a particular course). You can import items directly to a specific collection or add them to collections after they are already in your library.
The same item can belong to multiple collections in your library at the same time. It is important to understand that items can be assigned to multiple collections, but doing so does not duplicate the item. The library root—“My Library” for personal libraries or the group name for group libraries— is the master list showing all the items you have in your entire library, regardless of collection.
For more information and specific instructions for creating and removing collections, adding and removing items to collections, and renaming collections, see the Zotero Collections support page.
As you build your Zotero library, you might introduce a few duplicated items. E.g. you could have saved the same item twice from a webpage, or imported items already in your library. Fortunately, Zotero can help you identify possible duplicates and allow you to merge them.
In addition to items and file attachments, you can also store notes in your Zotero library: child notes, which belong to a specific item, and standalone notes. Notes are synced along with item metadata, searchable, and support HTML formatting.
Other Useful Notes Tips
Items in the center column can be sorted by various properties, such as their title, creators, or the date they were added to your library.
To change the way items are sorted, click on any of the headers at the top of the center column. For example, if you click on “Title”, all your items will be sorted alphabetically by title. Clicking a header multiple times toggles between ascending and descending sorts (the header will show an upward and downward arrow, respectively).
You can change which properties are shown in the center column by clicking the sort icon (), found to the right of the column headers. Checking properties in the dropdown menu adds them to the center column, and unchecking removes them.
“Tags” (also called “keywords” in other contexts) allow for detailed characterization of an item, and have the unique advantage of allowing the formation of ad-hoc collections after adding items to your library (e.g., one can use tags to locate items tagged “Sumarian” + “history”, and so on.)
Tags are portable, but collections are not: copying individual items between Zotero libraries will transfer their tags, but not their collection placements. Both organizational schemas have unique advantages. Experiment with both to see what works best for your own workflow
The Tag Selector
Zotero supports the ability for users to search through a library or collection.
Advanced searches offer more and finer control than quick searches, and allow you to make saved searches.