How to Block Quote Guide For Students

You must have seen at least one block quote example as a student looking through your textbook or when browsing through numerous publications for some research project. A block quote can be defined as a long quotation that always appears on a new line of text with an indent. It aims to create a separate block of text because of its exceptional length. Learning how to block quote, remember that quotation marks are not used for block quote citations. In the majority of cases, a block quote is necessary when your target text is about 40 words and requires complete citing. 

When Block Quotes Must Be Used 

According to academic writing rules, block quotations must be used only if your text is longer than 40 words (precisely for APA) or more than four lines if you use MLA format. All these lines must be double-spaced. No extra space is added before or after what you place as a block quote. The rules may differ for certain formats regarding length, yet starting from the new line with 0.5 inches indent is obligatory for most styles. 

Let’s continue by learning when NOT to place a block quote or when it should be avoided: 

  • If you have primary source data or a bit of information that has been obtained firsthand. 
  • Your text is less than three lines. 
  • When you do not have full information to include as a reference. 

Inclusion of your source is mandatory for all formats and goes according to the writing style! 

Block Quote Rules In Popular Citation Styles

Here are the basic block quote requirements for various citation style formats:

  • Harvard (minimum length is 30 words)
  • APA & Vancouver Citing (40 words)
  • ACS (50 words) 
  • Chicago & APSA (100 words) 
  • MLA block quote format requires four lines of prose or three lines of poetry as a minimum. 
  • OSCOLA & IEEE format requires at least three lines. 
  • AMA & AAA formats - four lines. 
  • Turabian - five lines. 

Block quote rules for different citation styles

How to Use Block Quotes 

As you learn how to make a block quote, remember that your quote should be introduced first so it makes sense and serves its purpose. An introduction is always done in your own words, which acts as an explanatory sentence before the actual block quote begins. If you implement a complete sentence, use a colon before the quote. If you continue with a sentence, no extra punctuation is necessary. 

Block quotes do not require quotation marks. Their purpose is to stand out by following formatting rules that are used for the rest of your writing. When you use APA and MLA, the text is indented 0.5 inches from the left margin. Remember that certain styles require different spacing, fonts, and right-side indents. 

To format block quotes in MS Word: 

  • Press Enter key at the beginning or end of your quote. 
  • Highlight it and select the Layout Menu tab. 
  • Checking the indent tab, change it to 0.5 inches. 

For example: 

Contrary to the popular belief, Jones did not follow the common rules of composition as he created his most famous pieces of music, as it has been noted in one of the reviews by Jake Middleton for Prog World magazine: 

Kelly Jones may not be among the classic representatives of rock music when it comes down to instrumentation and the use of lyricism in his writing. He always goes against the rules without fear of being rejected. Jones simply knows why he is there and what he intends to create because it is the music that matters to him. Going beyond the limitations and standards seems to be his driving force
​(Middleton, 2004, D3). 

Remember to provide analytical information after your quote by offering further context and adding your own voice to make the research reliable and unique. 

Summing Things Up

Regardless if you plan to cite MLA style for PDF documents or sort your research paper citations, it is essential to learn the purpose of block quotes and use them accordingly and only when and where it is necessary. Remember that you must offer an analysis of the language and the purpose of what you quote. The source information must be provided in brackets according to your initial style. 

For example, when you implement block quotes in Arts & Humanities courses, they must be used to provide your audience with a deeper textual analysis. If you intend to start with social science research with surveys, sample groups, or interviews, using block quotes will be helpful when you must provide analysis to the responses of a certain group of professionals or individuals involved. Since it is mostly used for primary research, the use of block quotes is not frequent in IEEE formats for engineering or related science courses. 

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