• 2-minute read
  • 31st July 2017

How to Use Block Quotes

Quoting sources is essential in academic writing. But do you know how and when to use block quotes? The exact rules for this depend on the referencing system you’re using. However, there are a few general guidelines that can help if you’re unsure what to do, as we will explain in this post.

What Is a Block Quote?

Block quotes are blocks of quoted text. Yes, sometimes life is that simple. They are typically used when quoting longer passages, as setting long quotations apart from surrounding text ensures they are not mistaken for your own work.

A block quote.

When to Use a Block Quote

Block quotes should only be used when necessary. If you’re quoting a source at length simply to set out an idea or theory, it’s usually better to paraphrase the original text in your own words (this shows you’ve understood the source).

Quoting at length is most useful when analysing a passage of text or when how something is written is essential to what it means. In both cases, block quotes are used when the exact wording of something is important.

There’s also the question of length. As a rule of thumb, block quotes should only be used for quotations of more than forty words. However, some style guides have specific rules on this:


When to Use a Block Quote


Quotes of 40 or more words


Quotations of four or more lines


Quotes of five or more lines


Quotes of more than 40 words

Make sure to check your university’s style guide if you need to use a block quote in your work.

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How to Format Block Quotes

This one also varies depending on the referencing system you’re using. However, most approaches stick to a few basic rules:

  • Begin block quotes on a new line indented from the main text.
  • Don’t use quotation marks, but make sure a full citation is given.
  • If citing multiple paragraphs, add an extra indent each time a new one begins.
  • Resume the main text after the block quote on a new line with no indentation.

Some systems also have rules about the line spacing and punctuation used in block quotes, so make sure to check your style guide for advice if you’re using longer quotes in your work.

Comments (1)
9th August 2022 at 13:55
Hi, are there specific rules for introductory block quotes, i.e. quotes that preface the main text as opposed to being part of the main text, with standard style guides? Typical examples would be a relevant quote from a famous individual under the title and before the main text. In the case of APA, do standard block quote rules apply or not? Thanks.

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