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MLA Block Quote Format

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Including quotations to your MLA 8 school essay or research paper adds strength to it. Quotes help the reader understand the original sources while also reinforcing your thesis. Although you don’t want to overuse long quotations in your paper, it is sometimes necessary, particularly for poems. To properly set the quote off from the rest of the paper, you’ll need to format it correctly. In MLA citations, use a block quote format under these circumstances:

  • More than four lines of prose (not poetry)
  • More than three lines of verse (poems, etc.)
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How to Format Block Quotations for Prose

Follow these guidelines when you’d like to use a block quote for a section of prose:

  1. Start new line
  2. Double-space
  3. No quotation marks
  4. Indent 0.5 inches from left margin
  5. Parenthetical (in-text) citation is placed after the block quote (author’s last name page number)

Example

Her gift for the written word and her poetic nature speaks for itself in this passage from her autobiographical work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings:

I have tried often to search behind the sophistication of years for the enchantment I so easily found in those gifts. The essence escapes but its aura remains. To be allowed, no, invited, into the private lives of strangers, and to share their joys and fears, was a chance to exchange the Southern bitter wormwood for a cup of mead with Beowulf or a hot cup of tea and milk with Oliver Twist. When I said aloud, “It is a far far better thing that I do, than I have ever done …” tears of love filled my eyes at my selflessness. (Angelou 196)

Quoting Two or More Paragraphs

If you include a quotation that has two or more paragraphs, put it in a block quote, even if it’s less than four lines.

Block Verse Quotations Format

Student learning MLA Block Quote Format

When quoting a stanza or more from a poem or other verse, keep the original line breaks. Follow the same formatting as for prose:

  1. Start new line
  2. Double-space
  3. No quotation marks
  4. Indent 0.5 inches from left margin
  5. Parenthetical (in-text) citation is placed after the block quote (author’s last name page number)

Example

Maya Angelou’s powerful poem on death, “When Great Trees Fall,” takes the reader through the shock of death to the peaceful acceptance of the change within us:

And when great souls die,
after a period, peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly.
Spaces fill with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be.
Be and be better.
For they existed. (Poetry Daily)

Formatting Edited Quotations

If you add or take out words within a quotation, you need to let your reader know.

Place square brackets around added words, like this:

Gabriel Hernandez states that “people [who celebrate diversity] find their lives enriched immensely” (82).

You may leave out words within a quotation if they don’t add to your statement by using an ellipsis. For example:

In his essay, Hernandez explains that “diversity in schools … leads to an enriched environment but also provides challenges to teachers” (79).

Note: Add a space before and after the ellipsis.

 

Add Depth to the Discussion

Adding quotations and poetry to your work gives it an added depth and helps draw the reader into your essay. Some instructors require adding quotations as well. As always, follow your teacher’s guidance.

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