Writing Tips: How to Use Block Quotes
  • 2-minute read
  • 19th March 2018

Writing Tips: How to Use Block Quotes

Quoting sources is crucial in academic writing. It shows you’ve read up on your subject. It also lets you back up arguments with evidence and ideas from other people. But if you’re quoting a long passage of text, there are rules you need to follow to make sure your work is presented correctly.

That’s why we’ve prepared this handy guide on how (and when) to use block quotes.

What are Block Quotes?

Block quotes are longer passages of quoted text that have been set apart from your own writing. This ensures that the reader does not confuse the quoted text with your own writing.

A block quote.

When Should I Use a Block Quote?

Generally speaking, block quotes should be used sparingly. This is particularly true in academic writing, since you need to show you can express your ideas in your own words.

However, quoting a longer passage now and then is fine, especially if your arguments rely on how something is worded (e.g., when analyzing a literary text).

A good rule of thumb is using a block quote for quotations that are more than 40 words long. If you’re using a particular style guide, though, it might have specific guidelines. For example:

System

Length Required for Block Quote

APA

40 or more words

MLA

Four or more lines

Chicago

Five or more lines

How to Present Block Quotes

The exact rules for formatting block quotes may depend on the style guide you’re using (always make sure to check if you’re not sure). However, there are a few guidelines that apply in most cases:

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  • Start the block quote on a new line (typically after a colon or comma)
  • Indent the block of text from the left margin (usually by around half an inch)
  • Don’t use quote marks, but cite the source as usual
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph after the first if quoting more than one

After the block quote, simply resume your own text on a new line with standard formatting.

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