Digital Corner: Zotero Primer

19 Oct 2014 2:30 PM | Christine R Henry (Administrator)

Zotero primer for VAF members

by Zach Violette

The transition of the Vernacular Architecture Forum Bibliography to Zotero offers a number of advantages to members, particularly the new ease of access to the data, and ability to easily create automatically-formatted bibliographies and citations from it.  There are two ways to access the new VAF bibliography using Zotero, either through its Web interface (, or by downloading the standalone Zotero desktop application for free at ( If you plan on using the desktop version, you will want to join the VAF group first by visiting the Web interface and clicking “Join Group.” You will be prompted to create an account by providing an email address and password.

Once you are a member of the group you can access the listings, search and sort them online. However, using the desktop application provides additional benefits. Zotero is a robust and high-quality Bibliographical Management Tool, and an excellent –as well as free and open-source - replacement for propriety, expensive, and increasingly antiquated tools like EndNote.  Zotero can be used to create an infinite number of bibliographies (called “collections”), both public and private. Because it is cloud-based, this data can be synced seamlessly across multiple devices. Once you’ve subscribed to a public bibliography like the VAF’s, all new listings will be automatically downloaded to your desktop (be sure to log in with the same account with which you joined the group), where you can search them, copy them into your own bibliographies, and export them in all standard citation formats.

More detailed information on how to use Zotero can be found here:


  • 21 Oct 2014 1:47 PM | Sarah Fayen Scarlett
    I would also emphasize that Zotero, like pricier Bibliographical Management tools, can work with Microsoft Word to manage footnotes right in your document. As someone who just finished a dissertation using Zotero (including sources from the new VAF bibliography!), I can happily recommend Zotero as a full service option for managing your references -- both as a resource and a functional tool in the writing and publishing stages. I'm a fan!
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