block quotationsDon’t go on and on
Formatting block quotations isn’t hard. Reduce the point size and line spacing slightly. 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. 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. Don’t put quotation marks at the ends. They’re redundant.
Block quotations are sometimes unavoidable. It may be that accuracy demands extensive quoting.
But as a means of textual emphasis, block quotations sometimes become, like all caps, a form of self-defeating typography. Writers often dump text into a block quotation because they want to signal “This source is really important, so I’ve quoted a lot of it!”
Instead, the actual signal a reader often gets is “Here’s something long and dull from another source whose meaning and relevance you’ll have to figure out for yourself because I can’t be bothered to summarize it!”
The reader’s next thought is usually “Great—I can skip this.” So 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.