Abstract In this paper, zinc(II) bis-(8-hydroxyquinoline) dihydrate (ZnQ2·2H2O) and zinc(II) bis-(2-methyl-8-hydroxyquinoline) monohydrate (Zn(MQ)2·H2O) were successfully prepared by a room-temperature solid-state chemical reaction using zinc acetate (Zn(CH3COO)2·2H2O), 8-hydroxyquinoline (HQ) and 2-methyl-8-hydroxyquinoline (2-methyl-8-HQ) as the starting materials. The results of X-ray diffraction (XRD), fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and thermal analysis (TG/DSC) demonstrated that the chemical composition of the products were ZnQ2·2H2O and Zn(MQ)2·H2O. The scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images and the transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images showed that the products ZnQ2·2H2O and Zn(MQ)2·H2O had sheet-like morphology with a thickness of about 50nm. The UV–vis absorption spectra of ZnQ2·2H2O and Zn(MQ)2·H2O indicated that they existed charge transfer from the metal to the ligand (MLCT bands). The room-temperature photoluminescence (PL) spectra of ZnQ2·2H2O revealed that the sample possessed largely blue shift compared with the previous reports. Besides, the two complexes presented a consistent decline situation along with the decline concentration in chloroform solution, which due to solvate effect and structural similarity. The fluorescence quantum yields were measured at 36.58% and 0.07%, and the emission colors were blue-green and light-blue, respectively. The fluorescence quantum yield of ZnQ2·2H2O was higher than some reported similar structure. The method was believed to largely facilitate the fabrication and application of organometallic complex nanomaterials.