How to do Block Quotes

In writing, we are always required to provide evidence for every argument we make. Therefore, we have to cite other people’s work in our papers. This is usually in the form of quotations. In some cases, the quote might be long and everything in it may be relevant. We, therefore, have to present the quote properly so that the reader can easily identify it and distinguish it from the rest of the paper. In such a case we are required to use a block quotation.

Block Quotes

Block quotations can be described as direct quotations used in writing, usually not enclosed in quotation marks. Often, a block quotation is separated from the other part of the paper by beginning it on a new line and ensuring that it is indented from the left margin. Block quotations can also be referred to as long quotations, extracts, display quotation or set-off quotation. To do good quotes, you should learn how to make block quotes.

When to use Block Quotes  – explained on a simple way

Block quotations can be used when the quotation is made up of more than four lines. This is the case when using the MLA formatting style is required. In case you are using APA, the quotations should be made up of more than 40 words.

The block quotes should always be indented and be started off in a new line. Block quotations can also be formatted in italics for the reader to identify them easily. Too much of something is poisonous, and therefore it is not advisable to use a lot of block quotations in writing as they will make your paper look as if you have not involved your thinking rather you have just relied on other peoples’ work.

Block quoting can be done in MLA format and APA format.

MLA Block Quotes

i. Length of MLA Block Quotes

In MLA format, block quotes are usually recommended when dealing with quotations that have more than four lines.

ii. Brief Introduction

Before inserting a block quote, you should first give it a brief introduction. At the end of the introductory sentence, you can choose to place a comma or colon based on how the quote is designed. If the quote is meant to be a continuation of your thought, then it is best to use a colon, on the other hand, if you want to just reference the author, you can use a comma.

iii. Insert Quote on a new line

After the introduction, you can go ahead and insert the quote, but you should note that quotes and periods are not used in block quotes. This practice is different compared to how short quotes are structured in MLA. The quote should be started on a new line. You should, therefore, create a new paragraph to start your quote.

iv. Indent the block quote

The block quote should be indented at least 0.5 inches away from the left margin. The essence of this is to make the block quote appear different from the other text in the paragraph and therefore make the reader easily recognize it as a quote. Block quotes in Word can be done by selecting the entire quote then pressing the TAB button on the keyboard. Another way of doing this is using the ruler by moving it 0.5 inches away from the left margin.

If you are dealing with more than one paragraph of the block quote, an additional indent of 0.25 inch should be made on the subsequent paragraphs.

v. Double Spacing

MLA format dictates that the quote should be double-spaced.

vi. Citation

Block citation is a must. Once you have added the quote, you should not forget to include the name of the author and the page number where the quote has been extracted from. The author’s name and the page number should all be enclosed in a parenthesis. The page number can just be written as it is. There is no need to put something to symbolize it as a page number, e.g., p. 3 or pg. 3

vii. Proceed to a new line

Having done all this, you have successfully and correctly added a block quote in your paper. You can now proceed with your writing, and you should begin on a separate new line. If it is a continuation of the paragraph, be sure to remove the indentions and continue on the normal margin. A new paragraph should be indented.

APA Block Quotes

i. Length of APA block quotes

In APA format, block quotes are considered when the quotation has more than 40 words. In APA words are considered rather than lines. In a word document, you can highlight the quotation and see the number of words to know whether or not you need to use a block quote.

ii. Brief introduction

A signal phrase should be used to introduce a quote. This is important as it informs the reader of the quote you want to cite. A colon or comma should be placed at the end of the introductory statement. In APA format, a block quote can be introduced in 3 main ways:

a) Including the author’s name and the year of publication

e.g., In a study by Clarke 2006, he noted that,

b)Using the author’s name only.

If you decide to use only the author’s name, you have to include the year of publication in parenthesis and it should come immediately after the name.

e.g., Clarke (2006) noted that:

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c) Using a general statement

e.g., Various studies have shown that:

iii. Insert quote on a new line

Just like in MLA you should insert the quote on a new line. You should also note that you don’t have to enclose the quote with quotation marks.

iv. Indent quote

APA format dictates that the quote should be indented 0.5 inches from the left margin. Indenting block quotes in Word can be done by highlighting the quote and using the TAB button. The ruler can also perform the same function. You should ensure that you indent the entire quote.

In case you have more than one paragraph, the subsequent paragraphs should have an additional indent of 0.5 inches.

v. Double Spacing

APA format dictates that the entire paper should be double-spaced. The block quote is not an exception. Double spacing block quote in Word can be done by highlighting the quote then you click the paragraph formatting button and click a line spacing of 2.0

vi. Citation

In APA format, you should also have block citation based on the introduction of the quote; the citation of the quote must be done after the closing punctuation. In APA format, we must symbolize the page number using either “p” or “pg.”

The following must be followed:

  1. If the introduction included the name of the author and the year of publication, then you will only be required to add the page number at the end of the quote.
  2. If the introduction had the name of author and year of publication enclosed in parenthesis, then you also need to add only the page number.
  3. If you had a general introduction, then you have to include the name of the author or authors, the year of publication and the page number all enclosed in a parenthesis.

vii. Proceed to a new line

You have successfully added a block quote in APA format to your paper. Now continue your work in a new line. A new paragraph should be indented 0.5 inches while a continuation of the paragraph should begin on a new line but follow the normal margin.

Block Quote Examples

Example 1

The world of photography has improved. From the analog cameras, today the field is full of digital cameras. According to Johnson (2010):

Digital cameras have recorded a very high percentage in the sale of cameras. Ideally, 90% of all the cameras sold in electronic stores are digital. This is attributed to the increasing use of social media platforms which has encouraged the sharing of digital photographs. (p. 23)

Johnson added that the use of smartphones and I pads that come with cameras have also played a role in facing off the analog cameras.

Example 2

The debate on the best computer operating system between PC and Mac has never stopped. In her article, Oyler (2010) claimed that there is no better operating system; rather their suitability depends on the intended purpose. She stated that:

Macs are usually suitable for people that intend to work on picture and videos. Macs can also accommodate new users as they are not complicated. PCs, on the other hand, are suited for Microsoft Office suite. On that note students usually find PC as the best alternative as they can use Microsoft Word and PowerPoint efficiently. (Oyler, 2010, p. 48)

However, Jones (2010) had a different opinion concerning the fact that Mac works well with graphics compared to PCs. He believes that PCs can also be adjusted to operate on graphics even better than Macs. When you get to understand the use of block quote then you can easily express yourself to the understanding of your reader.