block quotationsDon’t go on and on

For­mat­ting block quo­ta­tions isn’t hard.

  1. Re­duce the point size and line spac­ing slightly.

  2. In­dent the text block be­tween half an inch and a full inch on the left side, and op­tion­ally the same on the right. Or on the web, about 2–5 ems.

  3. As with first-line in­dents, make the side in­dents large enough to be no­ticed, but not so large that the line length is too short.

  4. Don’t put quo­ta­tion marks at the ends—they’re redundant.

Block quo­ta­tions are some­times un­avoid­able. Some­times, ac­cu­racy de­mands ex­ten­sive quoting.

But pay at­ten­tion to length. Writ­ers some­times put vo­lu­mi­nous ma­te­r­ial into a block quo­ta­tion in­tend­ing to sig­nalHey, I quoted a lot of this source be­cause it’s really im­por­tant!” The ac­tual sig­nal a reader of­ten gets isHey, I didn’t write any of this, I just cribbed it from some­where else!” The reader’s next thought is usu­allyGreat, I can skip this,” orHow is this relevant?”

If you want read­ers to pay at­ten­tion to quoted ma­te­r­ial, edit it care­fully and in­te­grate it into the text. Don’t just shovel it into a block quotation.