Zotero: Tricks for managing title capitalization

Everyone who writes needs a solid pdf and reference manager. I’m a big fan of Zotero. Zotero is free, and you can back up 300 MB worth of stuff on their servers for free. If you want more space (and I do), it’s $20/year for two GB, $60/year for six GB, or $120/year for unlimited back up space.

While I could go on and on about Zotero’s features (and I have in workshops), in this blog post, I want to focus on how Zotero handles article titles. When we import article data into Zotero—through a doi search or by dragging a pdf into Zotero—the title we get is whatever the publisher entered. For example, the title may come as “title case.” If you use MLA style, this format works fine for you. For those of us who use APA style, however, we need to use “sentence case.”

Fortunately, Zotero makes this easy to change. Mouse over the title (do not click on the title, just mouse over it), and then right click. Select “Sentence case.”

Done! The only capital letter is now the first one. But wait! In APA style, the first letter after the colon needs to be capitalized, too.

Zotero knows that. Even though it doesn’t capitalize the “a” after the colon in this view, when we tell Zotero to generate a bibliography in APA style, it capitalizes it.

Pratkanis, A. R., & Turner, M. E. (2013). Methods for counteracting groupthink risk: A critical appraisal. International Journal of Risk and Contingency Management, 2(4), 18–38. https://doi.org/10.4018/ijrcm.2013100102

One quick word of caution about title capitalization. Zotero does not know what other words in the title may need to be capitalized, such as proper nouns. After switching to “sentence case,” we will need to manually fix any other words that need capitalization.

If you are still typing out references, please try out Zotero. There are many other things you can be doing with your time.


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