Proper Citation


Parenthetical Citation, MLA Style1

If you are quoting, paraphrasing or summarizing a source, you must not only document that source in your Works Cited page, you must provide some information in parentheses at the end of the sentence or quotation. You must make sure that the author of the source is noted, as well as the page number. The following examples, which make use of Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, demonstrate the variety of ways this is accomplished.

Here is a direct quote from “The Brown Stocking,” Auerbach’s chapter-long analysis of To the Lighthouse:

"In Virginia Woolf's case the exterior events have actually lost their hegemony, they serve to release and interpret inner events, whereas before her time (and still today in many instances) inner movements preponderantly function to prepare and motivate significant exterior happenings" (Auerbach 475)

Here are several ways in which the author and the page number of this particular quote might be integrated into a paper:

In Mimesis, Erich Auerbach states that the style of To the Lighthouse indicates that, for Woolf, “the exterior events” of the plot “have actually lost their hegemony, they serve to release and interpret inner events” that take place in the minds of her characters (475).

Generally speaking, “inner movements” in novels “preponderantly function to prepare and motivate significant exterior happenings,” but in To the Lighthouse the relationship between the internal and the external is reversed (Auerbach 263).

Auerbach asserts that Virginia Woolf’s writing inverts the traditional causal relationship between internal and external, or between thought and action (Mimesis 475).

In his 1946 work Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, German critic Erich Auerbach argues that To the Lighthouse demonstrates author Virginia Woolf’s ability to invert the traditional causal relationship between the actions that make up the plot of the novel and the thoughts of the various characters (475).

The first example integrates the author of the citation into the introductory portion of the sentence. The second example, foregoing explicit mention of the author within the sentence itself, includes both the author and the page number at the end of the quotation. In this case, the reader would assume that the title and author of the work being quoted had been given explicit mention earlier in the paper. The third and fourth examples, which paraphrase Auerbach’s exact words, still include the name of the author, the name of the text, and the page upon which the paraphrased words can be found. [More on paraphrasing can be found in Paraphrasing and Summarizing Sources.]

For more information see the MLA Handbook, the English Department’s "Guide to the Preparation of Papers," or:

More examples of proper citation format can be found in Examples for Students.


Footnotes, MLA Style2

Papers formatted in MLA style use footnotes, rather than endnotes, for the introduction of additional information. Footnotes should be used for the discussion of important avenues of thought which might disrupt the body of the paper, or for the discussion of related sources. Footnotes also follow the MLA guidelines for parenthetical citation. Use footnotes sparingly. Number footnotes consecutively. For example, if in the body of your paper you wrote:

Many modernist novels, such as Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, disrupt the traditional balance of power between internal thought and external behavior.[1]

Your footnote, referencing the Auerbach quotation of the previous example, might read as follows:

[1] For example, Erich Auerbach states in Mimesis that "in Virginia Woolf's case the exterior events have actually lost their hegemony, they serve to release and interpret inner events" (475).

Or, if a direct quotation is not necessary

[1] Auerbach, Erich. "The Brown Stocking." Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, p. 475.

For more information on the use of footnotes, consult the MLA Handbook, the English Department’s "Guide to the Preparation of Papers," or:

"MLA Information Notes." Research and Documentation Online [D. Hacker, Bedford/St. Martin’s]

"Sample Footnotes in MLA Style." A Research Guide for Students. [I. Lee]


MLA Format Links


Other Citation Styles

Papers written for courses taken in the Barnard English Department should generally be formatted according to the guidelines set forth by the Modern Language Association (MLA), unless otherwise noted by your instructor. Papers written in other departments will often be formatted in other styles, such as Chicago or APA. You should always consult with your professor about proper citation style prior to submitting any written work. Select online resources explaining these styles:


Online Citation Tools

There are many web sites that will allow you to input your sources and automatically generate a Works Cited page, or a bibliography. If you use such a tool, you should be certain to double-check each entry, as many of these online resources are not always accurate. If your computer is connected to the Columbia University network, or if you have a Columbia UNI and password, you may download and install a copy of EndNote from Columbia LibraryWeb. This software can be used to create bibliographies in a variety of styles. For more information, see EndNote at Columbia.


1. Image: Detail from a patriotic WWI postcard. 1915 French color lithograph.

2. Image: Interior With Women and a Child, ca. 1900. Paul Mathey.