A block quotation, also known as a long quotation, block quote or extract, is a quotation in a written document, set off from the main text as a distinct paragraph or block. It is typically used for a longer passage than a run-in quotation, which is set off with quotation marks. A block quotation is often distinguished visually using indentation, setting in a different typeface, or in a smaller size.
Quotation marks were first cut in type during the middle of the sixteenth century, and were used copiously by some printers by the seventeenth. In Baroque and Romantic-period books, they could be repeated at the beginning of every line of a long quotation. When this practice was abandoned, the empty margin remained, leaving an indented block quotation.
For writers and editors, the Chicago Manual of Style recommends using a block quotation when cited text is four or more lines in length, and setting it smaller than the surrounding text. The block quotation may also be used to distinguish shorter citations from original text, though strictly speaking this does not follow APA or MLA style guidelines. Use of the block quotation for shorter passages is a stylistic choice that may or may not be acceptable depending on the situation.
Some guidelines suggest an indentation of five, ten, or fifteen spaces. However, five spaces in a proportional font may be much narrower than in a typewriter font of the same point size. In addition, setting an indent based on an exact number of spaces may not be technically possible in a given word processing or electronic publishing application. In these situations, a measurement of distance rather than a number of spaces may be prescribed instead (for example, a 0.5–1" indent). Some writers indent block quotations from the right margin as well. Block quotations are generally set off from the text that precedes and follows them by also adding extra space above and below the quotation and setting the text in smaller type. Barring specific requirements, the format of the block quotation will ultimately be determined by aesthetics, making the quotation pleasing to the eye, easy to read, and appropriate for the particular writing task.
In typesetting, block quotations can be distinguished from the surrounding text by variation in typeface (often italic vs. roman), type size, or by indentation. Often combinations of these methods are used, but are not necessary. Block quotations are also visually distinguished from preceding and following main text blocks by a white line or half-line space.
|Fielding hides his own opinions on the matter deep in Tom Jones:|
If the quoted passage continues an obviously incomplete (unquoted) sentence that precedes it, a comma may be used instead, or no punctuation at all, depending on the sentence's syntax, and the following extract will usually begin with a lowercase letter.
| According to Fielding,|
When the beginning of a block quotation is also the beginning of a paragraph in the original, the first line of the quotation is normally indented like a paragraph, and any subsequent paragraph openings in an extract are similarly indented.
When using a quote, the quote must be cited to avoid plagiarism. In block quotation, the citation is placed in parentheses after the quote and still in the block section. There is no period after the citation, unlike direct quotation.
| Expanding on his theme, his tone veers toward the contemptuous: |
| Davenport reports what may have been the last words Pound ever spoke in public:|
Dialogue in a block quotation is enclosed in quotation marks, and the beginning of each speech is marked by paragraph indention, just as in the original.
| Next O'Connor’s hapless protagonist is collared and grilled by the retired schoolteacher in the second-floor apartment:|
If a speech runs to more than one paragraph, open quotation marks appear at the beginning of each paragraph of the extract; closing quotation marks appear only at the end of the final paragraph.
For dialogue from a play or meeting minutes, the speakers' names are set on a small indention, in italics or small capitals, followed by a period or colon. Runover lines generally indent about an em space further.
| This vein of rustic drollery resurfaces in the scene where the transformed Bottom meets the fairies (act 2, scene 1):|
|Wikipedia defines Hanlon's Razor as follows: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."|