Citation managers and Wikitree , Zotero, computer wizards.

+12 votes
It is suggested that we use citations in the Chicago format/ Evidence explained format.

I use Zotero,  a citation manager for a course I am doing.  I need to use MHRA which is very close to Chicago .It works brilliantly whilst on an  Amazon page, or  the page of an academic  paper or from the ISBN number of a book. .I can click and  produce the citation in the correct format; it also links to word. It's great!

But when I try it with Ancestry it  works in a way, the  citation  is poor missing out much of the important detail.

There are a couple of discussions about this

and this one which includes participation from Elizabeth Shown Mills of Evidence Explained (the model which we are supposed to follow)

This ends somewhat in the air

Zotero software is open source .  I have no knowledge of the amount of work involved and probably asking for the moon! Would it be feasible to create the software that would  enable  us to use Zotero (or another manager) to cite documents from ancestry, FMP etc in a 'correct' format?
in WikiTree Tech by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (239k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

2 Answers

+12 votes
Best answer
Great to have some discussion about Zotero. I use Zotero extensively for genealogy and consider it be the most important tool for gathering and organising information. As an academic librarian I have used many other citation managers such as Endnote, Procite, Reference Manager but Zotero is as good or better than any commercial product.

Zotero creates citations from embedded metadata. If the metadata is not there, or the style format you are saving to does not include relevant fields then the citation may not include what you were expecting. The metadata is stored in the MARC record (MA chine-Readable Cataloging record). A full list of currently used data elements is here

All of this potential information (metadata) is describing a specific item be it a book, web page, article etc. It will not include the individual 'data' you may find in an individual Ancestry record. Saving from Ancestry to Zotero will default to the item type 'web page' and give the title of the source information and the url. You could then copy the precise citation to the Zotero notes tab if you wish.

Apart from the limited citation styles that come with Zotero there are thousands more available that you can add There may be a better fit there for Ancestry records but I have not tried to find one myself. It will still not include individual record 'data'.

Zotero is very powerful and is much more than just a citation manager. It integrates very well with Firefox and the Word plugin makes citing while you write so simple. Zotero can search all through records saved by it and any documents attached to those records. You can edit each record with extra information, add tags, notes and generate bibliographies and reports. It is worth checking each record you download to see if it is correct. Records from library catalogues such as Worldcat will often be incomplete or contain errors - the amount and quality of the metadata is dependent on what was entered by the cataloguer and Zotero can only include what is present.

What I would really like is a Zotero plugin for Wikitree like the Word plugin.
by Vivienne Caldwell G2G6 Mach 3 (33.2k points)
selected by Helen Ford

.I was actually just thinking of being able to create correct citations from the more commonly used online repositories using  Zotero. I hadn't thought the next step through and was probably  imagining cutting and pasting a correctly formatted citation from Word or similar.

There are instructions for using Zotero  with Wikipedia here, this appears to suggest that it can be done directly.

A plugin though would be fantastic!

(computer wizards?)

You can create citations directly from Zotero now. Right click on the Zotero record and select 'Create bibliography from item'. This will open a pop-up window and you can select the bibliography style and outputs. Output mode should be 'bibliography' and output method 'copy to clipboard'. Click ok. Then paste into your Wikitree source section or as an inline citation.

I usually use Zotero for books and articles but have had a little look at how this behaves with an Ancestry citation. Saving to Zotero from an Ancestry record creates a Zotero record of a 'web page' item type. This can be used as is however the url is very long. In the url field of the record in Zotero add square brackets at the beginning and end with a space at the end of the url and the preferred display text before the closing bracket the citation. It will copy perfectly to Wikitree with the display text becoming the hyperlink to the record. You only need to do this once in Zotero. It will look like this:

“England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995 - Ancestry.Com.Au.” Accessed October 20, 2017. Ancestry link.

If you would like to include the original source information on the Ancestry record copy and paste into the Zotero 'extra' field. Note you will need to use the Chicago style with notes and bibliography. The record will display like this:

“England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995 - Ancestry.Com.Au.” Accessed October 20, 2017. Ancestry link. Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England. London, England © Crown copyright.

A minor glitch is that Ancestry.Com.Au is capitalised because it is in a text field and Zotero is interpreting the words as the start of new sentences. A small glitch for a very quick and easy way to add citations to Wikitree.

I haven't tried with other types of Ancestry records yet. I have started a Zotero free space page to show the various ways Zotero can help with organising research and generating citations. It is empty at the moment but I will be working on it as I have time. Any Zotero users who would like to contribute are most welcome.


See for a basic starter guide.

I have changed this from a comment to an answer in the hope that more people may see it:-)
Thanks for the info Vivienne!

I installed Zotero, and brought up an Ancestry record. I put the brackets on the URL (which isnt showing anyways) and added info in 'Extra.' All I get when I copy the citation is:

“U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 - Ancestry.Com.”

Do I need to change something in settings to get the full citation?
We can work through this to see what is happening. I will send you a message. I did try it with a random person from the same Ancestry collection and it worked fine. Probably something in the settings.
“U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 - Ancestry.Com.” Accessed October 22, 2017. [ WWI Draft Card].

Pasting in 'Extra':

“U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 - Ancestry.Com.” Accessed October 22, 2017. [ WWI Draft Card]. Data: John Gonsalves Perreira, Married, born 14 Mar 1892, Residence Kauai, Hawaii, Slender build, Tall height, Black hair, Gray eyes.


Thank you!
+5 votes
I have added a pdf with basic instructions for using Zotero for Wikitree citations to Please let me know if it is clear enough and if it helps. I was planning to do each section as a more detailed instruction but time is not on my side today. I will do some more guides as I have time. If there are any Zotero users out there who would like to collaborate please contact me. I am also happy to help anyone needing assistance with Zotero.
by Vivienne Caldwell G2G6 Mach 3 (33.2k points)
Thank you so much for this Vivienne, it's really useful and explained very  clearly.

I'm off to have an experiment with it.

Here's hoping that some of the team have a look at what can be done perhaps consider adding a link to this on the citation help page.

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