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MLA Block Quote Format


Student learning MLA Block Quote Format

Including quotations to your MLA school essay or research paper adds strength to it. It helps the reader understand the original sources while reinforcing your thesis.

Although you don’t want to overuse long quotations in your paper, it is necessary sometimes, particularly for poems. In order to properly set the quote off from the rest of the paper, you’ll need to format it correctly. In MLA, format block quotations under these circumstances:

  • More than four lines of prose (not poetry)
  • More than three lines of verse (poems etc)

How to Format Block Quotations

Block Prose Quotations Format:

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


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

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 .5 inches from left margin
  5. Parenthetical (in-text) citation is placed after the block quote (author’s last name page number)


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
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 Quotations

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

Placing brackets around added words


Gabriel Hernandez states, “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.


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

Note: add a space before and after the ellipsis.


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.

Related Articles

Preparing to Write MLA College Papers

Tips for Citing a Poem in MLA Style

About the author

Adrienne Mathewson

Adrienne Mathewson, Editor-in-Chief of Bibliography.com, is an Information Professional with a Master’s in Library, Information & Science from San José State University with an emphasis on information literacy and scholarly publishing. She is a certified librarian through the State of New Mexico.

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