To turn on the Zotero add-in for Microsoft Word or Libre Office:
On Mac menu bar: Zotero → Preferences → Cite → Word Processors
On Windows menu bar: Edit → Preferences → Cite → Word Processors
From this menu install the add-in of your choice.
To turn on the Zotero add-in for Google Docs, you must have the Zotero Connector installed in the same browser you will use Google Docs. Access the preferences for your Zotero Connector. Check the box "Enable Google Docs Integration" under the Advanced menu.
Once you have installed the add-in, open the your word processor of choice and you should see Zotero in the menu of the Word Processor.
Within Microsoft Word, the Zotero menu should look something like this:
The functions of each button are:
Within GoogleDocs, the Zotero add-in will look something like this:
In the word processor after selecting Add/Edit Citation, it will open a red Zotero window that looks like this:
Within this window, begin typing the title, year, or authors into the dialog box. Select the correct citation from the options that appear. If you need to add pagination to your citation you can click on the citation bubble and add the page in the drop down menu.
When using author-date formats, it is typically unnecessary to include the author name in the parenthetical citation if you have already referenced the author in the sentence. In this case, once you have entered a citation using the "Add/Edit" function, clicking on the citation bubble you'll open the pagination box. At the bottom of the box is a small checkbox that says "Omit Author." Checking this box will get you the year of the citation in styles that use (Author, Date) as well as any page numbers. For styles that are (Author, Page) it will remove author information and leave page information.
In the word processor selecting Add/Edit Bibliography will auto populate a bibliography based on the citations linked within the document already. The bibliography will insert wherever you've placed your cursor, so be sure you've clicked at the end of the document before adding your bibliography. If you make a mistake upon inserting the bibliography, simply delete the inserted error and add the bibliography in the correct location.
Different disciplines, publications, and professors have different citation preferences. If you write your paper in one format using Zotero, perhaps MLA, but after checking the paper actually needs to be formatted in APA, I have excellent news! Use the Document preferences option to update the citation style! A pop-up window should open and allow you to select a new citation style:
If the citation style of your choice is not there, simple choose "Manage Styles" and add a new citation style from Zotero's database of 10,000 citation styles.
The major citation styles in Zotero (typically those automatically included like AMA, APA, MLA, Chicago, IEEE, Vancouver, etc.) are managed and updated regularly. However, the more niche citation styles, particularly those for a journal or grant, are not necessarily up to date. If you're using a citation style in Zotero and something seems off, or it doesn't match the mandated style in the author guidelines published by the journal, it should be considered outdated and should not be used. You can post a message to the Zotero community outlining the error as one of the community developers may be able to fix or retire the style. If you are unsure when a style was last updated you can look in at the list of styles in your style manager accessed under "Cite" in the settings pane as seen here:
You can also see the date that a style was last updated when selecting a style from the Style Repository, which can be accessed by clicking "Get Additional Styles."
Sometimes you don't have in-text citations to generate a bibliography from. Perhaps you need to create a bibliography to add to a presentation slide. To do this, navigate to your Zotero library and select the applicable citations. You can select one or many. Once you've made your selection, right click to open a menu and select "Create Bibliography from Items":
That will open a window where you will choose your citation style, output mode, and output method:
For output mode, citations will generate in-text citations of the items in the selected citation style, whereas bibliography will create a bibliography of the full citations for the items in the selected citation style.
For output method you can choose to save the citations as a rich-text file (RTF), an HTML file, copy the output to the clipboard, or print the output. If you would like to paste the citations directly into a slide or another document, select "Copy to Clipboard."
At times, research papers have dozens or even hundreds of citations. Working these in Zotero is much easier than doing it by hand, but you will want to disable “Automatically Update Citations” on these large documents. It will require you to manually refresh them, but it will also keep Zotero from reloading the citation data every time you add/edit a citation!
In your document select “Zotero” from the menu. Select “Document Preferences.”
In the pop-up window uncheck “Automatically Update Citations,” select okay.
Refresh your document manually by selecting “Zotero” from the menu and selecting “Refresh.”
You can work without refreshing and my notice that new items go in as  if working in a numerical style. It's okay! Once you hit refresh, Zotero will place the new item in it's proper order, reassign all citations to their new correct numbers, and update it throughout the paper. When working with auto-updates off, the bibliography will also disappear, but don't worry. It will come back once you have hit refresh!
Big refreshes can take a few minutes on large papers, so maybe use it as an opportunity to take a quick break or rest your eyes!