Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Friday, June 12, 2020 at 21:38

This tutorial explains how to install Zotero research assistant tool completely on Ubuntu Focal Fossa. This including web browser and word processor integrations (Firefox and LibreOffice Writer). You will find a 1 minute short demo video too below. After practicing, you will have Zotero accessible on your desktop area, panel, and start menu, and finally make documents with citations and bibliography easily. Examples in using and its results also included on last sections. Enjoy!

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  • Requirements
  • Installation
  • Usage

(Video | Demo on using Zotero on Ubuntu 20.04 to collect a reference from the web and then insert a citation in LibreOffice Writer and finally make a bibliography | This includes saving the document into PDF too | video source: downloadable on PeerTube


  • Zotero for GNU/Linux, download.
  • Zotero for Firefox, download.
  • Zotero for LibreOffice, built-in.


  • 1. Download Zotero package file.
  • 2. You got a Zotero-blablabla.tar.gz file by 60MB+.
  • 3. Extract that file.
  • 4. You got a Zotero-blablabla folder in same place.
  • 5. Move that folder to destination folder[1].
  • 6. Run the script[2].
  • 7. Place Zotero on left panel[3].
  • 8. Run Zotero for the first time.
  • 9. Install a Firefox's integration[4].
  • 10. Install LibreOffice's integration[5].

(Picture 1.1)

With this installation procedure, your Zotero Standalone program is installed at /opt location.

[1] The folder name is Zotero_linux-x86_64 and destination path is /opt/zotero:
$ sudo mv -v Zotero_linux-x86_64 /opt/zotero/
$ ln -s zotero.desktop ~/.local/share/applications/zotero.desktop

[2] Execute the installation script file named set_launcher_icon:
$ sudo ./set_launcher_icon

[3] Open the start menu > find Zotero > right-click > Add to Favorites > done.

(Picture 1.2)
[4] Firefox will automatically congratulate you for installing Zotero. Just click the button Install to integrate Firefox and Zotero. Once the addon installed, now you can save everything you see on Firefox to Zotero database. If anything does not work, simply visit the page and click the button.

[5] (This needs direct internet access.) On Zotero Standalone window, go to menubar Edit > Preferences > Cite > Word Processor > click the button Install LibreOffice Add-in (Writer must be running alongside Zotero if the button is not shown) > OK > follow the next steps > some software will be installed > Finished. Successful installation will make your LibreOffice Writer now looks like picture 1.3.
 (Picture 1.3)

Use Zotero

(Picture 2.1)
The first purpose of Zotero is to collect materials. You can start browsing and save to Zotero everything you find on the internet by the new button placed on Firefox. See picture 2.1. You can save webpages, PDFs, audios, videos, and everything else for your research. The material is now saved in Zotero Standalone application. Later, you do search excellently against all materials you already saved.

(Picture 2.2 | Zotero Standalone application window running on 20.04)

The second purpose is to create beautiful citations and bibliography in LibreOffice. Now LibreOffice Writer will display one new toolbar that is from Zotero (in this version it is called Add-On 1 not Zotero under the menubar View > Toolbar). With the buttons Add Citation, Add Bibliography, you work around materials that already saved in Zotero.

To add a citation, place your cursor where you want to put it > click + Citation button > list of materials or quick search panel will appear on your screen > find one material > select that materiscal > OK > citation added on your cursor place. Repeat this to create other citations.

(Picture 2.3 | Top: Zotero's toolbar on LibreOffice Writer window | Center: Zotero's citation dialog, floating on desktop, showing instant search result for "wiki" keyword from saved references)

To add a bibliography, after you finished put some citations, place your cursor in right place > click + Bibliography button > bibliography added.

(Picture 2.4 | Citation and Bibliography with APA Style)

Final document will look like this short one for example.

(Picture 2.5 | PDF version of the short document above)

About Zotero

Zotero is a free software desktop research assistant to collect references, data and information, to be processed as bibliography and citations in LibreOffice Writer or Microsoft Word documents. Zotero is available for GNU/Linux, Windows, and macOS. Zotero can be considered as an alternative to the proprietary Mendeley and such research assistant programs.

Happy researching!

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.