This post contains my notes for a workshop demonstrating the use of Microsoft Word and Zotero for academic writing.

Quick Reference

The material I’ll be presenting today is available via links on my ambitiously named site “Student Writing Helps”. Two pages there have the links you’ll need for today:

My notes for the presentation are below for your reference as well, though some of this will only make sense to me.


Learning Objectives:

By the end of this class, you should be able to:

  1. Properly structure a formal research paper in Microsoft Word (or an open-source alternative);
  2. Collect, organize, and accurately cite research sources using Zotero.

My background:

  • Developed these workshops while a grad assistant at the BJU library
  • Taught at FBC in Edmonton
  • Now an editor at PAFC
  • Also my undergrad degree included a minor concentration in the Department of Computer Science at BJU, so I have some theoretical background that helps with this kind of thing

My approach to teaching software skills:

We are discussing the skilled use of a tool, not the intricate nuances of a theological distinction. This is unlike most seminary training, which often involves summarizing a vast canon of received wisdom on a topic. You learn canonical wisdom (or “content” to use the over-deployed term of today’s web-based world) by comparatively passive absorption. You learn skills, on the other hand, by observing, experimenting, and even making mistakes.

The main thing you need to take away from this presentation is an understanding of the abstract concepts involved in the process, not the details of implementation. A lot of software education goes the wrong way here, in my opinion. Instead of teaching workflow and process, it descends into the banal demonstration of every single feature available via all the menus and keyboard shortcuts—95% of which you will never use. Don’t get side-tracked trying to write down every single click I make or every step in the process.

If you find that you have forgotten a step later when you’re trying to do this yourself, you can always consult support materials online. To that end, I am providing these notes and a page of support links for your future reference.

If you really get stuck, don’t hesitate to ask for help. It would be my pleasure to hear from you.

Using Turabian template files in Word

  1. Read the manual!
    • Part 1 describes the research process
    • Part 2 describes technicalities of citations
    • Part 3 describes general issues of writing style
    • Appendix describes page layout issues, with examples
    • Using a chapter: chapter outline; section numbers
  2. Turabian Template demo
    • Download templates from Writing Helps site
    • Create Cover Page and First Page
    • Styles are your friend! Important styles in the template include:
      • bodytext, t, text
      • quote, q
      • Headings (including invisible headers)
      • Footnotes (access by right clicking on a footnote and selecting “Style”)
      • bibliography, bib
    • Show automatic Table of Contents
    • Show Turabian Lorem Ipsum file


Think of the last big paper you wrote. How many books and articles did you cite? How did you manage all of those references and articles?

By taking an hour or so to learn how to use citation management software now, you will improve the efficiency of your research and save hundreds of hours with the papers you’ll write in the future.

And the crucial payoff here is that you’ll eliminate much of the drudgery involved in creating standards-compliant citations. The onus remains on you to validate the accuracy of your citations, but much of the busy work of creating these can (and will be) handled by Zotero’s citation style engine.

Quick Demo

Let’s start with a quick demonstration. Consider this to be a preview. Just relax and watch for a couple minutes, then I’ll explain all the details.

Installing Zotero

Zotero includes four essential components, three of which you have to install:

  1. Zotero
  2. Zotero browser connector (available for Chrome, Firefox, Opera)
  3. Word processor plugin (usually installs automatically with Zotero Standalone)
  4. If you need a citation style format that isn’t included by default (like Turabian or SBL Handbook of Style), you have to add it to your Zotero Style Manager.

I won’t go through the process of installing Zotero from scratch. It is pretty easy.

For a lot of users, Zotero Sync provides a reliable way to both back up your research, and to access it on multiple devices. To set that up, you have to create an account on This is optional though, and I won’t demonstrate setting it up because it takes a long time for my personal library to sync to a new device for the first time. Later in the presentation I’ll switch to my personal Zotero library and you’ll see what I mean by this.

Find & save sources

Organize your notes

  • Fix errors (do this using the demonstration profile, then switch to my personal profile for the rest of the workshop)
  • Collections & subcollections
  • Tags
  • Search & saved searches
  • Notes

Cite your sources (use Lorem Ipsum file)

  • Insert citations into the text.
  • Create a bibliography.
  • Move three citations.
  • Refresh bibliography.
  • Change style and refresh again.
  • Remove Zotero codes and save document.