Adding quotations from books and plays can be an important part of your paper. Quotations strengthen your argument or add emphasis to a discussion about an author’s writing style or genre. The Chicago style block quote format is the same for both author-date and notes style. You can even incorporate quotations within a note, if needed. However, most school and college essays do not require that level of complexity.
Formatting a Block Quotation
To determine when a quotation should be incorporated in the text of your essay or set off by a block quote in a Chicago paper, look at its length and type. Prose is text such as words in a report or book. By contrast, verse is poetry or drama.
The length of the prose passage determines how you should format the quotation:
- If the section is four or fewer lines, include it in text, set off by quotation marks.
- If the section is five or more lines, set it off in a block quotation.
You may use a block quote for a quotation shorter than five lines if you want to emphasize it or compare it to a shorter quotation.
If your introduction to the quotation is a complete sentence, use a colon before the quotation. Use a comma before the block quotation, if you introduce the quotation with such words as “according to,” “claims,” or “notes.”
Some other formatting rules you should keep in mind include:
- Do not enclose the quote in quotation marks.
- Single space the quoted section.
- Leave a space before and after the block quote.
- Keep quotations marks if they are used within the quotation itself.
- Indent the whole block as you would a paragraph (0.5 inches).
- If you include more than one paragraph in the same block quote, do not add a line between them but continue to indent by 0.5 inches.
Block Quote Example
If you cite your source in a footnote or endnote, place the superscript note number at the end of the block quotation.
For author-date style, place the in-text citation after the last period in the block quotation in parentheses.
Formatting Verse Block Quotations
If you are including a quotation from poetry or a drama, you follow different rules.
- Use a block quotation for two or more lines of poetry.
- Indent the entire block by 0.5 inches.
If you’re including two or more lines of dialogue from a play, format it the same. Use all caps for the speakers’ names or use a different font.
Tips for Modifying Quotations
Although you should copy the quotation exactly as it is, there is room for some modification. For example, in Chicago style you are allowed to change small errors such as obvious spelling errors without noting the change.
However, don’t change quotations:
- If the language uses obsolete words or phrasing
- If the error itself proves a point in your argument; keep it the same but insert [sic]
If you want to emphasize a part of a quotation by using italics, add a note within brackets, such as [emphasis added].
If you insert an explanation or your own words into a quotation, set it off by square brackets, like [museums, libraries].
If you have a long quotation that can be shortened by omitting unneeded words or phrases, you can insert ellipses in place of the words. However, make sure you’re not removing words that change the meaning of the quotation.
Incorporating Quotes for Depth
It’s always a good idea to incorporate quotations, particularly when discussing a writer’s unique style. Long quotations are acceptable and can add depth to your paper.