Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

RSC 507: Scholarly Writing: Troubleshooting

Zotero Thread/Toolbar Not Appearing

If the Zotero thread/toolbar (or the Zotero scripts menu in Word 2008/2011 for Mac) doesn't appear, follow these steps:

  1. Close Word or LibreOffice.
  2. In Zotero, go to Tools → Add-ons → Extensions.
    • If either the Zotero Word for Mac/Windows Integration or Zotero LibreOffice Integration is disabled, click on the Enable button to re-enable the extension.
    • If the Enable button for the Zotero Word for Mac/Windows Integration is grayed out so that you're unable to click on it, click on the Remove button and then restart Zotero.
    • If you don't see either the Zotero Word for Mac/Windows Integration or Zotero LibreOffice Integration in the Extensions window, then you should re-download and re-install Zotero.
      • It isn't necessary to uninstall Zotero before re-installing; simply install Zotero on top of the existing installation.
      • Re-installing Zotero rarely fixes problems and shouldn't be used as a general troubleshooting step. This is one of the few instances where re-installation could be helpful.
  3. In the Cite pane on Zotero preferences, open the Word Processors tab.
  4. Click on Reinstall LibreOffice/Microsoft Word Add-in and then restart your word processor.

If you're still experiencing issues, please see below.

Windows PC

Communication Error or Non-Responsive Plugin Buttons

If you see one of the following errors:

"Word could not communicate with Zotero. Please ensure Zotero is running and try again."

or

"Could not find a running Word instance."

or the plugin appears and buttons are clickable, but no insert citation window appears, try the following steps:

  1. Ensure that Zotero Word for Windows Integration is enabled in Tools → Add-ons → Extensions in Zotero.
  2. Make sure that you're running Zotero as the same user as in Word. The plugin may fail, for example, if Zotero is run as an administrator while Word is run as a regular user. For security and stability reasons, you should typically not run any software as an administrator.
  3. Try temporarily disabling any security software you're running, which could interfere with the connection between Word and Zotero.
  4. Windows plugins communicate with Zotero using the remote window. Thus, launching Zotero with the -no-remote command-line option will prevent the plugin from functioning. (You might do this accidentally if you have multiple Zotero profiles.) The solution is to remove the -no-remote command-line option from the shortcut used to launch the Zotero profile (this flag should never be used with Zotero).

Zotero Thread Not Appearing in the Word Ribbon

If you're using Microsoft Office Starter Edition, the Zotero Word integration isn't supported.

Check if the Zotero plugin is correctly installed

  1. Open Word Options.
  2. Choose Customize Ribbon.
  3. On the right pane, click on the Developer tab.
  4. Close the options; in the new Developer tab, click on Word Add-ins.
  5. Make sure that Zotero.dotm is present and checkmarked.

If Zotero.dotm is present and ticked under Word Add-ins

  1. Open Word Options.
  2. Choose Trust Centre; in the pane click on Trust Centre Settings...
  3. Under Add-ins, make sure that Require Application Add-ins to be signed by Trusted Publisher and Disable all Application Add-ins are unchecked.
  4. Restart Word.

If the Zotero thread still isn't appearing after following these steps, go back to the Trust Centre Settings and click on Disable all macros with notification under Macro Settings. Restart Word and see if you get a notification asking for macro permissions.

If Zotero.dotm is NOT present under Word Add-ins

  1. Go into Zotero → Tools → Add-ons and make sure that Zotero Word for Windows Integration is enabled. If it is disabled, enable it and restart Word.
  2. Go into Zotero Preferences → Cite → Word Processors and click on Install Word for Windows Add-in. Restart Word.

If Zotero the thread isn't present in Word, check whether it's available under Word Add-ins, and, if so, follow the section above. If it still doesn't show up in Word Add-ins, you should attempt a manual installation.

Word 2010: Could not find a running Word instance

If you install Zotero with Word 2010 and receive an error stating

"Zotero experienced an error updating your document. [zoteroWinWordIntegration Exception... "Could not find a running Word instance." code: "0" function: "zoteroWinWordDocument::initFromActiveObject" location: ".\zoteroWinWordDocument.cpp"]"

you may be experiencing an issue related to your Word 2010 installation method. Microsoft distributes a set of Click-to-Run versions of Office 2010 that are configured to run within their own virtual environment. Unfortunately, this virtual environment prohibits Zotero from communicating with these Word instances, producing an error.

You can fix this problem by switching your copy of Office 2010 from a Click-to-Run installation to a standard (MSI-based) installation. This process doesn't require an additional license. To do so, follow the steps under the Workaround heading on this Microsoft Support page.

You may also experience this error if you're running either Word or Zotero as Administrator or in a compatibility mode in Windows Vista or 7 or if security software is interfering with Zotero's ability to communicate with Word.

Run-time error '5097': Word has encountered a problem.

This issue affects users of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. To fix it you will need to change your regional format to English:

  1. In Windows settings go to the page for Region, which has settings for Regional format.
  2. Change that setting to English (United States) or English (United Kingdom).
  3. Restart Word.

"This command is not available because no document is open"

Zotero's Word add-on currently doesn't work for documents in OneDrive. Move your document to a different folder. Other cloud-syncing services such as Dropbox or Google Drive aren't affected (note that Zotero documents should not be opened or edited in Google Drive's word processor as this will break Zotero citations. See this thread on the Zotero forums for details and developments.

Citations remain in endnotes when switching to in-text style

When switching from a note-based style set to Endnotes under Set Document Preferences to a style that produces in-text citations (author-date or numeric), the citations remain in endnotes.

Workaround: Before switching to the in-text style, click on Set Document Preferences in the Word add-on and switch the format to Footnotes. Then switch to the in-text style. If you already switched to the in-text style and are seeing this issue, switch back to the note-based style you were using, toggle to Footnotes, and switch back.

Mac

Tab doesn't appear in Word 2016

First, check your specific Word version number and follow the appropriate steps below:

Version < 15.41

Begin by updating Word to the latest stable version (15.41 or above). If the tab still doesn't appear, follow the steps for Word version 15.41 and higher below.

Version 15.41 and higher

First, upgrade to the latest stable version of Word (click here to download the installer for the latest version of Word).

If the tab still doesn't appear, check whether the plugin was installed in Word correctly:

  1. Open Word Preferences.
  2. Click on View.
  3. Check Show developer tab and close the preferences dialog.
  4. In the new Developer tab, click on Word Add-ins.
  5. Make sure that Zotero.dotm is present under Global Templates and Add-ins is checked.

If the Zotero.dotm entry isn't present in the dialog, try reinstalling the Word plugin from Zotero. In Zotero, go to the Cite → Word Processors pane of the Zotero preferences, click on the Reinstall Word Components button, and then restart Word.

If the entry still isn't there, follow the manual installation instructions.

Toolbar doesn't appear in Word 2011 or is incompatible

First, check whether Zotero Bibliographic Management shows up in the View → Toolbars menu within Word. If it does but isn't enabled, enable it.

If the Zotero option doesn't show up in that menu, try reinstalling the Word plugin from Zotero. In Zotero, go to the Cite → Word Processors pane of the Zotero preferences, click on the Reinstall Microsoft Word Add-in button, and then restart Word. If you get an error, report it in the Zotero Forums with a Report ID.

If you have a non-English version of Office, you may need to move the Zotero.dot file into the Word directory within the equivalent of Startup in your language and restart Word. The correct path should be listed in Tools → Templates and Add-ins in Word.

If you're using a non-admin macOS user account, you'll need to install the Word plugin from an administrative account or grant write access for the startup directory to the non-admin account to allow it to install Zotero.dot.

Scripts don't appear in Word 2008/2011 or are incompatible

After installing the latest Word plugin for Zotero on a system with a non-English version of Office 2008/2011 for Mac installed, the plugin scripts may not appear in Word. Alternatively, after upgrading the plugin, you may receive a message saying that the plugin is incompatible with the installed version of Zotero.

These problems indicate that the new scripts weren't installed into the correct location. By default, Zotero installs the scripts into ~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/Word Script Menu Items or ~/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Office/Word Script Menu Items if either of these folders exists or asks where to install them if they don't. Since non-English versions of Office prior to Office 2011 SP2 don't use the Microsoft User Data folder, but rather a folder with an equivalent name in the Office language, this can be problematic for non-English Office users. There are three potential solutions:

  1. If you have Office 2011, install the latest available updates. You can then reinstall the Word scripts from Zotero. In Zotero, go to the Cite → Word Processors pane of Zotero preferences, click the Reinstall Microsoft Word Add-in button, and then restart Word. If you don't see the option to reinstall the Word Add-in, open Tools → Add-ins and ensure that Zotero Word for Mac Integration is present and enabled. If it is missing, see Zotero toolbar doesn't appear.
  2. If you have only non-English versions of Office installed, you can delete the Microsoft User Data folder if it contains nothing other than the Zotero scripts. You can then re-install the Zotero scripts by going to Tools → Add-ons → Extensions, clicking the Preferences button next to Zotero Word for Mac Integration, and clicking the Reinstall Microsoft Word Add-in button.
  3. If you have both English and non-English versions of Office installed, you should copy the Zotero folder from ~/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Word Script Menu Items to the equivalent folder for your non-English version of Office. You can find the correct directory by selecting About This Menu... (or non-English equivalent) from the script menu and clicking Open Folder.

No response from plugin

If you get no response when you attempt to use the Word plugin, try the following steps:

  1. Restart Word and try again.
  2. Close Word and go to Tools → Add-ons → Extensions in Zotero. Make sure Zotero Word for Mac Integration is listed and enabled. If it is disabled, enable it. If it is missing entirely, see Zotero toolbar doesn't appear. After re-enabling/re-installing Zotero Word for Mac Integration, open the Cite → Word Processors pane of Zotero preferences and click Reinstall Microsoft Word Add-in on the Word Processors tab. Restart Word and try again.

In Word 2011, this can also indicate an issue with Visual Basic for Applications. If the above steps do not resolve the issue, follow these steps for resolving Visual Basic for Applications-related issues.

Visual Basic for Applications error

Some Word 2011 users may see the following message upon attempting to insert a citation or bibliography into any Word document using the Script menu:

"Zotero could not perform this action. Please ensure that a document is open. If you have performed a custom installation of Office, you may need to run the installer again, ensuring that "Visual Basic for Applications" is selected."

Attempting to use the Zotero toolbar may result in no response, accompanied by an error message reading "Word could not fire event" when closing the document.

This error indicates that Visual Basic for Applications is malfunctioning, which may happen for several reasons:

  • Office 2011 may have been installed without Visual Basic for Applications. If you didn't select Visual Basic for Applications during installation, or if you're not sure, reinstall Office 2011, making sure to select this option.
  • A character with an accent or diacritic may be present in the path to Microsoft Word (e.g., in the name of your hard disk).
  • The OLE Registration Database may be corrupt. Delete the OLE Registration Database, located in Home/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Office 2011. Word will regenerate this file the next time it is opened. (On macOS Lion and later, the Library directory is hidden by default, but you can open it by holding down the Option key and selecting it from the Go menu.)