Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Manage Your Online Recipe Collection with Zotero

Zotero is a wonderful open-source Firefox plug-in that was originally developed for scholars and researchers to help them manage bibliographical information, and is now gaining wider use as an on-line content manager.

I use Zotero to manage any bit of on-line information that I normally would manage by using bookmarks. We are increasingly reading thousands upon thousands of webpages, blog posts, pdf files, and youtube videos and Zotero helps you keep track of all of these bits of digital information. For bloggers, Zotero can be invaluable in that it can help you organize content that you might potentially need, future posts to link to, or for cooks, can help you manage all of those recipes found on various sites.

How I use Zotero to help me blog in second part of post...

Organizing Content

I use Zotero to save any bit of on-line content that I might want to read or use in the future. For work, I use it to save articles and posts that I might want to share with my students, and at home I save recipes and posts that I might want to share with my readers.

All I do is click the Zotero button on the lower right hand side of my browser whenever I find and interesting web page and click a button to save it to my collection. The beauty of this is that you don't have to exit Firefox and access a different software to save pages to your collection.

Use Folders To Organize Collections

Zotero's interface is similar to iTunes and it allows you to make folders within your library to help you organize your content. I make a "recipe" folder and then add sub-folders to help me keep my recipes super organized. At the moment, I have "breakfast", "lunch", and "dinner" as sub-folders. Whenever I find a recipe I simply add it to the corresponding folder. This makes finding recipes super easy!

Utilize Tags to Further Organize

Zotero also allows you to use descriptive keywords, or tags, to each item. Tags can be added to further organize content. For instance, many of my recipes are placed in the "diner" folder and then I tag them with the type of food it is, the main ingredient, etc. etc. This way if I want to find all recipes that contain "beef" I can simply click the "beef" tag and Zotero will show only items in your collection that you tagged with that keyword. Amazing, right?!

Syncing Capabilities

One of the major reasons I like Zotero is that its a web-based application that has the capabilities of syncing with multiple computers. For instance, I can access my Zotero collection from my computer at work and from my laptop at home. This feature really comes in handy!

Highlight and Add Notes Directly To Page

Zotero also allows you to highlight parts of the web page and add notes directly to a particular part of a page. I use this feature if I make a recipe and decide to make changes to the amounts in the ingredients or if the cooking time varies from what the author posted. All I do is add a note to the page and whenever I re-visit that page my note will also show up.

There are other really amazing features available but these are some of the main ones I use. I know lots of people use Evernote to organize their on-line content, but Zotero just seems so much easier to me. Any of you have experience with either? As always, I invite you to participate in the comments!


  1. Thank you for this post!! I've spent all of yesterday sorting my old bookmarks into it! So handy and useful :)

  2. I'm glad it's working for you Avanika!