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Tana and Zotero Workflow

Last updated Oct 5, 2022

Because of the amazing Tana Paste, you can create some basic workflows to integrate different tools with Tana. In order to make Zotero play nice with Tana, there are a few configurations required.

# Metadata Import

Zotero has a great Quick Copy feature that enables you to copy information from the Zotero database, into whatever format you require. Usually it is used to copy bibliographies and citations to be used in word processors, but we can customize it to output data that can be ingested into Tana. Here are the steps to configure that:

  1. Navigate to Zotero Translators directory. By default, it is located in C:\Users\{username}\Zotero\translators on Windows. You can also locate it from the Zotero Preferences. Tana and Zotero Workflow 2022-10-05 11.20.37.excalidraw.svg
  2. Download the script from the official tana paste examples: tana-paste-examples/zotero-translator-tana.js , and place it in the translators directory.
    1. You can also modify it according to your needs.
    2. Here’s my slightly modified one: Tana Paste Translator (github.com)
  3. Restart Zotero, so it can load the newly added Tana Translator.
  4. Go to Zotero Preferences, then select the Export tab, and in the drop-down menu for Item format, select the Tana Metadata Export option.
  5. Now, whenever you select an item from your library, and press Ctrl + Shift + C to copy it, you can paste it in Tana with proper formatting, and all the fields pre-populated.

# Annotations Import

Zotero 6 introduced a built-in PDF reader and annotator as well, which is quite feature packed already. We can annotate documents and images using different colors, and we can then export them to whatever format we require, which is usually markdown. Let’s customize the output format so it is easily ingestible in Tana.

  1. Go to Zotero Preferences -> Advanced, and under the General tab, select Config Editor.
  2. In the Config Editor, search for annotations.note. It should show three settings. Pasted image 20221005113736.png
  3. Modify the values of these settings like so:
    1. extensions.zotero.annotations.noteTemplates.title change it to <br><ul>
    2. extensions.zotero.annotations.noteTemplates.note change it to <li>{{comment}}</li>
    3. extensions.zotero.annotations.noteTemplates.highlight change it to <li>{{highlight quotes='false'}}</li>{{if comment}}<li><ul><li>{{comment}}</li></ul></li>{{endif}}.
  4. Make sure that the drop-down value of Note Format, under Zotero Preferences -> Export, is set to Markdown + Rich Text.
  5. Right click on a library item which has annotations, and select the Add Note from Annotaitons option. This will create a new note under that item.
  6. To copy the annotations, select the newly generated Note, and press Ctrl + Shift + C. Now you can paste it into Tana. It will be correctly formatted, with links to the actual location of the highlight in the PDF as well.

Sadly there’s no way to dynamically upload images to Tana as of yet. So all the images from the annotations will be relaced with [image] text. You can manually copy and past the images to upload them, if required.


This is what I’ve managed to hack together for now. I’ll try to improve it further, and see what better ways are there to manage and export the data from Zotero into Tana.