Quick Thoughts on Zotero 4

Zotero 4The recent release of Zotero 4 has brought both bug fixes and additional features. The brief announcement lists a few of the bigger features:

  • Tag colors
  • On-demand download support
  • Relative path support for linked files
  • Automatic style updating for all installed styles
  • Automatic journal abbreviation support
  • Firefox 20 compatibility (Zotero for Firefox)
  • …plus much more.

A full list of the changes and bug fixes can be found here.

In an earlier post, I discussed in depth how I organize and use Zotero. Here I will merely highlight and comment upon a few new features in Zotero 4.

Zotero 4 color tags

Zotero 4 color and newline-separated tags

1. Ability to use color tags (up to 6 colors). Right-click the tag (from the tag selector in the lower left corner) to add or remove a color. I’m not using the colors on normal tags, but I create ‘ranking’ tags. Since the colors also appear in the center pane next to the work’s title, I can use colors to distinguish visually between works of various importance for a paper. (See image.)

2. Styles are now updated automatically.

3. Blue dots indicate attachments. Now I can quickly tell if I have a PDF of the work. The arrow only indicates child notes, and the attachments column in Zotero 3 could only tell the number of child notes attached (not all that helpful for me).

4. The middle pane no longer scrolls around when updating an item (bug fix).

5. Multiple newline-separated features. If you were wondering what this was, you can now paste tags from multiple lines of text into a tag box and create multiple tags at once (each desired tag is on a separate line in a document). The same can be done for creators (they must be ‘last, first’ format and pasted into the ‘last’ field). Holding ‘shift’ while hitting ‘return’ in a tag will also allow multiple tags to be created at once (only hold ‘shift’ for the first ‘return’). See the above image for a picture of this. This feature could be nice, but it does not autofill like a single tag does. Hitting return after adding a single tag already opens a box for another tag. So it is faster for me to add them individually. However, where this feature is very nice is in the ‘creator’ field. Holding ‘shift’ and hitting ‘return’ after entering a creator now adds and opens another ‘creator’ field (like adding single tags and hitting ‘return’). This is very welcome. Recently I’ve added a number of items manually that had an author (section of book) and three editors. Clicking the plus sign was getting old.

There are a number of other good features that have been added. These simply stood out for my uses. What new features have been the biggest helps for you? I welcome questions and comments about my use of Zotero.


Getting Organized with Zotero

Zotero 4For those of us in the academic world, it can be difficult to keep track of and organize our resources and information. Books and papers are quickly consumed, and information once thought important can become lost in files (or piles)—forgotten. Often we find somewhat hidden chapters on various topics tucked inside books whose titles do not betray their contents. Remembering those great hidden chapters or what we’ve found valuable is not always easy. Keeping track of what we own is not always easy. So how can all of these resources be organized to minimize our overlooking these many gems we’ve found over the years? Enter Zotero.

From the Zotero homepage:

Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It lives right where you do your work—in the web browser itself.

Many reading this post are probably already using Zotero to manage citations in research papers. Zotero does this very well, and Zotero’s documentation includes a helpful collection of video tutorials. This post will not cover the same material.

Zotero can be used to organize references, resources, and even a personal library—more than simple citation management. Below is what I have found to be the best use of tags, folders, notes and [Read more…]

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