MLA Block Quotes Guide with Formats and Examples

Last Updated: 17 August 2023

Are you supposed to place a block quote in your paper but need to know how to go about it? Then this guide is for you.

One of the biggest challenges for most students when blocking quotes in MLA is properly putting them in the essay. A block text in MLA formatting is any text that is four words or more directly quoted from the source. The quotation is a way of showing the reader that the text is different from the main writing in your paper. When writing a block quote, you must use proper citations and formatting according to the MLA style.

The concept of block quotes can seem challenging yet it is widely used in academic and sometimes, professional writing. The good thing is that you can master the technique and properly apply what you have learned. This guide will walk you through making a block quote and how you can properly cite and format it in your paper. Keep reading to learn more.

What is MLA format?

MLA format is a style of academic writing developed by the Modern Language Association with guidelines on how to format manuscripts and cite research papers. MLA provides writers in the arts and humanities fields with a system for formatting and referencing their source through parenthetical citations within the content and in the Works Cited pages.

Like other academic writing styles, MLA style includes specific guidelines on how to write the paper's heading, in-text citation, quotations, work cited pages, sizes, and spacing of the paper, and abbreviations. This ensures that your paper is neat and that reader can easily follow and focus on the content of your argument. The purpose of MLA format is to do the following:

You should use MLA format for every assignment, including an essay outline, literature review, research proposal, and more. Ask your instructor if you are not using whether to use MLA formatting.

What is a Block Quote?

A block quote, also known as an extract or a long quotation, is a freestanding written text set off from the main text in a paper as a block of text. It is distinguished from the main text using indentation and a different font type, unlike the regular quotation type. Block quotations are normally used for long forms of texts. The citation style determines when and where to apply a block quote.

In MLA style formatting, a block quote is any quote with more than four lines. It is used when quoting the dialogue between characters in the play. When doing this, begin each part with the character's name and indent it 1/2 inch from the left margin. You should write all the names in capital letters and then follow them with a period.

The purpose of a block quote is to:

After writing the block quote, include a page number at the end after the ending period, the last name of the author, the date of publication, and the page number

Block Quote Format

A block quote follows the following format in MLA.

Steps to Make a Block Quote in MLA

The following steps will help you properly place a block quote in your paper.

1. Introduce the Quote

Since a block quote starts in its paragraph, you should give it a proper introduction. Write a sentence or two in your own words to tell the reader what it is all about and how it fits in your argument. This introductory sentence should then be followed with a comma. Use a colon if the quote is a continuation of your thoughts. However, if you are showing what the author said in the block quote, use a comma.

You can also introduce a block quote with a complete sentence ending with a period. Alternatively, an incomplete sentence transitions into another incomplete sentence before the start of the block text, thus forming a complete sentence.

2. Format the Quote

Like other text in your work, the block quote should be formatted. The block quotes should be doubled spaced on all lines. Do not add any extra space before or after the quote. The entire quote should also be indented 1/2 inch or 1.3 cm from the paper's left margin to look like a separate text. If you are using the word, you can indent the quote in the following ways:

Using the layout tab:

Using the paragraph setting:

The in-text citations should come after the closing punctuation mark. Maintain all the punctuation marks and capitalization as they appear in the original text. If you are quoting verse, keep the original line breaks. Place a period before the intent text (the parenthetical citation). Do not put ending punctuation after the parentheses. Let the MLA parenthetical citation guidelines direct you when writing the in-text citations.

3. Cite the Quote

Citations are a short, nice, and unique way of identifying an already published work. Citations involve certain elements, such as name, page number, etc., necessary for identifying and tracking publications. When writing a block quote, you must cite it properly. Add proper citations at the end of the block quotes after the final punctuation mark using the MLA style guide. According to the style guide, use the author's last name and the page number from where you took the quote. You should enclose the page number and the author's name in parentheses. Just write the page number as it is; there is no need to put any symbol to show it.

If any elements are missing from the source material, do not include them in your citation. These citations are important because they direct the reader to where you got the information. Every in-text citation you use should correspond with the source in the ‘Works Cited’ list. You should include the last line of your block quote.

Citing your block text is important because it helps in avoiding plagiarism. By citing your sources, you are telling the reader that you have borrowed the information from another author, thus giving them credit.

4. Comment on the Quote

When writing a block quote, you should not end it with a quote. You should use your own word to write a comment about your thoughts on the quote. This comment should help the reader connect the entire text with the block quote. Your comment might involve the following elements depending on the purpose of your paper:

Ensure you articulate your words well so the reader can understand.

5. Review the Quote

After writing a perfect completion text, you must review your quotes to determine that you have followed all the guidelines according to the MLA style. Check indentation and spacing, among others. Also, ensure it meets the proper standards for a block quote.

Related Reading: How to indent paragraphs in academic essays and papers.

Tips for Citing a Block Quote

When writing block quotes, there are certain tips that you need to follow the tips below:

Where and When to Use Block Quotes

A standard quotation is enclosed as part of your sentence within a paragraph and is enclosed in double quotation marks. However, if you are planning to quote more than three lines of verse or more than four lines of prose from your source material, you should put it in a block quote instead of the regular quotation.

Keep in mind that the standard rules for normal quotations will still apply with the exception that it meets the rules for block quotes as set out by the styling guide.

If your block text involves more than one paragraph, you should indent the first line of the new paragraph just as you would in the main text. If you are citing more than one paragraph, maintain the block quotation format, even if the paragraphs only have less than four lines. Please note that you should indent an extra 1/4 inch if you cite more than one paragraph to show the reader that you are starting a new paragraph.

To better visually distinguish a block text from regular text, ensure you leave an extra line above and below the block quotes.  

Always remember that block quotes should be used sparingly, especially since you must show that you can express your ideas without relying on others.

Block quotes are used when:

Final Remarks

A block quote is any text that is four or more lines. You must cite and format a block quote according to the style of writing used.

Block quotes are an important part of academic writing when used properly. They are used to show quotes text separate from the main text in a paper. They add depth to your essay or research paper. It also adds strength and helps readers understand your thesis.

Related Reading:

Remember that even though they have many advantages in a paper, overusing them is not good. The exact number of block quotes to use will depend on the specific instruction from your instructor.

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How long is a Block Quote?

In MLA format, a block quote should be more than four lines of prose and three lines of verse. Only two block quotes can be used in an MLA paper, but this will depend on the length of your paper.

Can I Omit Some Words in a Block Quote?

Yes. You can omit some words in a block quote as a way to shorten it. Use ellipses to show the reader that you have omitted some words. The three dots should be proceeded and followed by space. Please keep in mind that there is no need to add brackets around the ellipses unless you are trying to provide more clarity. If you are writing poetry, use a single line of periods the same length as the poem to indicate that you have omitted some words. However, as you do this, make sure you do not change the original meaning of the author or eliminate some important texts.

Can I Use Quotes Within a Block Quote?

Yes. In MLA format, you cannot use quotation marks to enclose the block quote. However, if there is quoted text within the block quote, it should appear in double quotation marks.

How Do I Create a Block Quote in a Word Document?

You should start a block quote on a new line and indent it ½ an inch from the margin. It should be double-spaced and without any quotation marks. You can achieve this by:

Another way to do this is by using the ruler method. Moving the ruler 0.5 inches from the left margin. Then place the ruler an extra 0.25 inches on the subsequent paragraphs when writing a quote of more than one paragraph.