Have you ever used Zotero to grab a citation from a library or journal database, only to have to retype the title of the article because it’s not capitalized correctly? Or maybe the article has a superfluous space before a colon that you have to manually edit out?
I don’t know about you, but dealing with these nagging little details takes some of the magic out of the otherwise automagical powers of Zotero. A while ago I tweeted my frustration with this problem and asked if there was some way Zotero could automatically reformat lowercase titles into proper title capitalization.
And guess what?
Sheila Brennan, the Associate Director of Public Projects at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (developers of Zotero), wrote back with this quick and useful tip: Right-click in the title field in Zotero and you’ll have an option to transform the text to the title case. This trick will also remove those extra spaces before colons! On a Mac the trick works with a CTRL-click. I’ve tested this trick out on the Zotero Firefox extension and the standalone Zotero, and it works on both.
To recap: transform title capitalization in Zotero by right-clicking (PC) or CTRL-clicking (Mac) in the title field.
big red plastic letters photo courtesy of Flickr user David Salafia / Creative Commons License
The research organizer and reference manager Zotero is one of ProfHacker’s favorite tools. I’ve shown how ZotPad allows you to access your saved sources and PDFs on your iPad, but there’s one key functionality that ZotPad doesn’t (yet) provide: saving citations to Zotero from your iPad.
Enter the Zotero Bookmarklet.
The Zotero Bookmarklet can be added to almost any modern browser—including Safari on the iPad or iPhone—and it allows you to save a source to your Zotero library, as long as the Zotero web service recognizes that source. In other words, the Zotero Bookmarklet works well with common research databases, electronic journals, and new sources, while it’s not likely to recognize regular blogs and random websites.
Installation of bookmarklets on iOS browsers is tricky, but this is the essential process (adapted from the official Zotero documentation):
- Bookmark this page (or any page). Be sure to save it to Safari’s Bookmarks Bar (as opposed to your regular bookmarks).
- Edit the bookmark you’ve just made.
- Rename the bookmark to something appropriate. Mine is called, simply, “Zotero.”
- Copy the code from the Zotero Bookmarklet page (click the iPhone/iPad link there to view it) and paste that code as the URL for the bookmark
And there you have it! The first time you save a source you’ll be prompted to log into Zotero, but then it should work fine for you. Note that if you use a non-Zotero server to sync your attachments, the attachments (say, a PDF of the article you’ve just saved from Project Muse) will not be saved to your account. My current workaround is to download the attachment to Dropbox from my iPad, and then add the file to the citation in Zotero once I’m at my regular PC. I haven’t been able to verify this, but I expect that if you do avail yourself of Zotero’s file storage service, the attachments save without a hassle.
(Addendum: Fellow ProfHacker Amy Cavender has confirmed that the Zotero Bookmarklet does indeed grab PDF attachments if you’re using Zotero’s own file storage service.)
Can you imagine using the Zotero Bookmarklet? Would it change your workflow? If you have an alternative that already works for you, what is it?
My Pile of Index Card photo by Flickr user koalazymonkey / Creative Commons Licensed