Restore Zotero library from entries in bibliography in Word document

edited February 19, 2019
Hello there,
unfortunately the SSD of my Mac crashed and I lost the Zotero library for my master thesis. The thesis was saved in Dropbox, so I still have access to the word document. There I have also a version with the list of references.

-> Is there a way to import the references from the Word document back into Zotero?

I tried "Edit Bibliography"-button in Word, but in the window that is opened it does not seem to let me push the data back into zotero. When I try it, with the arrow pointing from Word-data to Zotero-library, the reference will just disappear in the Word-data and not appear in the Zotero-library.

Also I didn't find a similar issue in the discussions, if there is a description somewhere I'd be happy to get a link!

Thank you very much, if you can help me save my master thesis (originally due in 2 weeks, but I guess it'll get postponed...).
  • You can try this:
    1. Close the document in your word processor.
    2. On zotero.org (in a browser) log in and create a private group (of which you will be the owner).
    3. Close Zotero.
    4. Install Juris-M on your PC, from https://juris-m.github.io/downloads
    5. Set up Juris-M to sync to your Zotero account, and sync to pull in the (empty) group library.
    6. Open the document, and open the Doc Preferences popup.
    7. You should see "Project Name" as the right-most tab in the popup.
    8. Tick the "release for editing" box, and click on the red "No group selected" dropdown menu.
    9. Select your group from the dropdown menu and hit Enter.
    10. Close the Doc Preferences popup, and click the Zotero "Refresh" button.
    11. Your references (without attachments) should appearing in the group library.
    12. Sync the group to zotero.org
    13. You can now uninstall Juris-M, start Zotero, sync, and go back to work - the references in your document will now point at the group library.
  • You can use this tool to extract references from Word and re-import to Zotero https://rintze.zelle.me/ref-extractor/
  • edited February 19, 2019
    @JoeDippert: Use Rintze's tool instead of what I had written above!
  • (@JoeDippert: actually to be fair to myself ... it's your call. Rintze's tool will extract the references quickly and simply. You would then need to re-link the items in your document individually. The Juris-M method above is more cumbersome, but will end with a working document with live Zotero citations. The latter approach may be useful if the number of citations in the document is very large.)
  • Thank you booth for the quick support! Especially @fbennett for pointing out the differences between the two given options!
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