Block quoting in MLA style

When you include a long quote in an MLA paper, you have to format it as a block quote. MLA style (8th edition) requires block quote formatting for:

  • Quotes of poetry longer than three lines
  • Quotes of prose longer than four lines

An MLA block quote is set on a new line, indented 0.5 inches, with no quotation marks. The in-text citation goes after the period at the end of the block quote.

How to block quote in MLA

To create a block quote in MLA, follow these four simple steps.

Step 1: Introduce the quote

Always introduce block quotes in your own words. Start with a sentence or two that shows the reader why you are including the quote and how it fits into your argument. After the introductory sentence, add a colon, and then start the quote on a new line.

Step 2: Format the quote

Like the rest of your MLA format paper, the block quote should be double spaced. Indent the entire quote half an inch from the left margin. Include the same capitalization, punctuation, and line breaks as appear in the original text.

Step 3: Cite the quote

At the end of the quote, add an MLA in-text citation directly after the final punctuation mark. This contains the name of the author(s) and the page number(s) from which the quote is taken.

Every in-text citation must correspond to an entry in the Works Cited list. You can create citations using our free MLA citation generator.

Step 4: Comment on the quote

Under the block quote, analyze or comment on the quoted text. Never end a paragraph with a block quote – you should always start and end in your own words.

Block quote examples

Use the tabs to navigate between the examples for quoting prose and quoting poetry. Pay attention to the indentation, spacing, the colon after the leading sentence, and the parenthetical citation.

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:

Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction—Gatsby who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. (Fitzgerald 4)

The poem “My Country” is one of the most widely known in Australia, expressing the poet’s affection for the country’s unique landscape:

I love a sunburnt country,
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)

If you block quote from a play, follow our guide to MLA play citation.

Quotes within block quotes

If you want to block quote a passage that itself contains a quote, use quotation marks as you normally would around the inner quote.

Example nested quotation

Like his introduction of Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s opening description of Daisy immediately informs the reader of her charm and allure:

she laughed, an absurd, charming little laugh, and I laughed too and came forward into the room. “I’m p-paralyzed with happiness.” She laughed again, as if she said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see. That was a way she had. (Fitzgerald 11)

Omitting words or lines in block quotes

You can shorten block quotes by using ellipses ( … ) to indicate that you have removed some text. If you shorten a quote like this, make sure it doesn’t change the author’s original meaning or leave out important context.

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.

I love a sunburnt country,
…………………………………
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.

Frequently asked questions about block quoting in MLA

How long is a block quote in MLA?

In MLA style, if you quote more than four lines from a source, use MLA block quote formatting.

If you are quoting poetry, use block quote formatting for any quote longer than three lines.

How are block quotes formatted in MLA?

To format a block quote in MLA:

  1. Introduce the quote with a colon and set it on a new line.
  2. Indent the whole quote 0.5 inches from the left margin.
  3. Place the MLA in-text citation after the period at the end of the block quote.

Then continue your text on a new line (not indented).

How can I create an MLA block quote in Microsoft Word?

To create a correctly formatted block quote in Microsoft Word, follow these steps:

  1. Hit Enter at the beginning and end of the quote.
  2. Highlight the quote and select the Layout menu.
  3. On the Indent tab, change the left indent to 0.5″.

Do not put quotation marks around the quote, and make sure to include an MLA in-text citation after the period at the end.

 

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Courtney Gahan

Courtney has a Bachelor in Communication and a Master in Editing and Publishing. She has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2013, and joined the Scribbr team as an editor in June 2017. She loves helping students and academics all over the world improve their writing (and learning about their research while doing so!).

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