MLA block quotes
When you copy text from a source word for word it is called quoting. There are different formatting guidelines for short quotes and block quotes. MLA block quote formatting is used for:
- Quotes of poetry longer than three lines
- Quotes of ordinary texts (prose) longer than four lines
For shorter quotes, the usual quoting style guidelines should be followed. MLA block quotes take the following formatting:
- Indentation of 0.5 inches
- Double spacing
- Introduced by a lead sentence followed by a colon (:)
- Parenthetical in-text citation after the period
- No quotation marks
Block quoting examples
Use the tabs to navigate between MLA block quote examples. Pay attention to the indentation, spacing, colon after the leading sentence, and parenthetical citation.
The parenthetical citation usually includes the original author and page number. Read our MLA citation quick guide for more detailed information on what to do when the author or page number are unknown.
The reader quickly becomes familiar with Nick Carraway’s relationship with Jay Gatsby, as the very first mention of the character illustrates both his admiration and disdain:
The poem “My Country” is one of the most widely known in Australia, depicting the author Dorothea Mackellar’s love for the country’s unique landscape:
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains,
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror,
The wide brown land for me! (Mackellar)
Play citation is one exception to the usual rules for quoting in MLA format. You can learn more about this in our guide to MLA play citation.
Quotes within block quotes
If you need to include a quote within your block quote, place double quotation marks around the text in question—this is called nesting punctuation. If you need to include a subsequent quote, use single quotation marks. Alternate between single and double quotation marks as far as you need to.
Example nested quotation
Like his introduction of Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s opening description of Daisy immediately informs the reader of her charm and allure:
In MLA, you cannot change the capitalization, spelling or interior punctuation. Therefore, as we chose to start the quote partway through the first sentence, the word “she” must be lower case as it appears in the novel itself.
Omitting words or lines in quotes
If you want to omit words from a quote, you must be sure you are not taking the text out of context or changing the author’s meaning to your own advantage. You can indicate words missing from a quote using ellipses ( … ).
If you want to omit a line of poetry, you can indicate this with a line of periods approximately the same length as the line of the poem. For example:
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.