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quotations: block format

Use block format rather than run-in format for quotations of longer than 50 words (or 5 lines).

Block format

A block quotation is set off from the text and is not enclosed in quotation marks. Instead, the quoted passage is indented and single spaced, with double spacing above and below the passage to set it off. (Use of a smaller font size is an alternative to single spacing or indentation.)

Introductory sentence

Use an introductory sentence followed by a colon to lead in to the block quotation:

  • In "Keeping Our Words," Burkhard Bilger examines the rapid extinction of most Native American languages and concludes that, although traditional field work might be the only way to save these languages, linguists are running out of time and financial support:

    Endangered languages, like endangered species, might be infinitely valuable, but funding and linguistic expertise are finite. They could resort to triage, ignoring both the healthiest languages and the lost causes to concentrate the money where it will make the most difference. Saving a language, however, is more unpredictable than saving a battlefield casualty. A single committed speaker can resuscitate a language, whereas a million suppressed or indifferent speakers can let their language die in a generation.1


Note that in the example above, the source is mentioned at the beginning of the passage and further information is given in footnotes or endnotes:

  • Back to the note1 Burkhard Bilger, "Keeping Our Words." Sciences – New York, 34, 5 (1966): 18-20.

If the source is given in a parenthetical citation rather than in the introductory sentence, place the parenthetical citation at the end of the block, one space after the period:

  • …million suppressed or indifferent speakers can let their language die in a generation. (Bilger 1966)


If the block quotation begins with a complete sentence-whether or not this was the first sentence of the paragraph in the source document-the first line may be indented further in order to match the format of subsequent paragraphs in the quotation:

  • The Auditor General’s report brings out a major contradiction in the way finances are being handled:

    There have been major initiatives in public administration in the last fifteen years: the emergence of value-for-money auditing, the creation of the Office of the Comptroller General, Part III of the Estimates, the emphasis on internal audit, the advent of program evaluation, and emphasis on the three E’s of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Many of these had their origins in the government itself.

    Yet, despite these many initiatives, Canada’s finances are not in any better shape. Changes in process have not solved the fundamental problem of balancing expenditures with revenues. As early as 1976, the Auditor General was "deeply concerned that Parliament, and indeed the government," had lost, or was "close to losing, effective control of the public purse."