Block Quotes Made Easy: MLA Citation and Format

Greetings, dear reader! Academic writing is a challenge because of all the formatting and citation guidelines you have to memorize. Perhaps one of those challenging aspects is formatting and citing block quotations.

Please reflect on the following questions:

  • Have you ever wanted to put a block quote in your essay, but you don’t know how?
  • Have you ever struggled with formatting block quotations?
  • Is this your first time placing a block quote in your essay?

If your answer is “yes” to all (or most of) my questions, then you came to the right place. Block quotations may be tricky for beginners, but you will get better once you practice and apply what you’ve learned.

What is MLA?

Modern Language Association (MLA)

The Modern Language Association or MLA is a citation style used by the liberal arts and humanities fields. On MLA’s official website, the purpose of the said citation is to record the sources used in academic/scholarly writing. It is taught in classrooms and used

“… by scholars, journal publishers, and academic and commercial presses.”

For more than a century, MLA has been utilized to enhance

“… the study and teaching of languages and literature.”

Moreover, the MLA (8th edition) style of citation now offers a universal guideline for writers to follow:

  • Author
  • Title of source
  • Title of container
  • Other contributors
  • Version
  • Number
  • Publisher
  • Publishing date
  • Location

What is a Block Quotation/Quote?

Quotation marks

In MLA, a block quotation is defined as a text consisting of more than four lines.

How to Format a Block Quote?

Here are the formatting guidelines you need to know about MLA block quotations:

  • ½ Inch from the left margin
  • Double-spaced
  • Parenthetical citation after the closing punctuation mark
  • Maintaining original line breaks (in the case of poetry and verses)
  • Omission of quotation marks
  • A freestanding block of text

Block quote example #1:

Block quote MLA example

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Block quote example #2:

If you want to cite two or more paragraphs, you have to indent the second paragraph an extra ¼ Inch. This signifies that the second paragraph is a new paragraph. Let’s observe the example below:

Block quoteMLA example

Block quote example #3:

Okay, what if you want to write your thoughts (or anything) about the direct quotation? That’s simple!

Block quotation MLA example

Take note: In the example above, the line after the block quote is flushed left because it signifies paragraph continuity.

Block quote example #4: 

If you want to quote poems, please try to replicate the format as close as you can. Check the example below:

How to Make a Block Quote?

Block quotation

1Know the formatting guidelines!

First things first, a block quotation consists of more than four lines. Make sure that the text you are going to place in your paper meets MLA’s definition of a block quote.

2Introduce your quote!

There are various ways to introduce a quote such as adding signal phrases like:

  • “according to”
  • “as stated by”

Be creative! You can use a comma or colon at the end of your introductory sentence.

3Create a new line

As per the guidelines, you are required to place the block quotation on a separate line. Once you do, you are ready to make the final touches.


Please follow the steps outlined below:

  • Press “Enter” to create a new line.
  • Place your text and press “Tab”.

Take note: It is important to double check your settings if the indent is at ½ Inch. If not, then it’s probably the reason why you can’t format your block quote properly.

It should not look like the example below:

Incorrectly formatted MLA block quotation

5Finishing touches!

Please follow the steps below:

  • Place your cursor at the beginning of the second line.
  • Press “Tab” until the succeeding texts are aligned.
  • Use the “Ruler” function of Microsoft Word or Google Docs if the aforementioned steps don’t work.

That’s it! Your formatted block quotation should look like:

Block quote example MLA

Take note: Don’t forget to add the parenthetical citation!

How to Cite a Block Quote?

Man looking at different sources

This will only be a general tutorial on how to cite block quotations. It is best to consult the MLA Handbook or your instructor for clarifications.

1The credentials!

Find out the following elements from your source/s:

  • Author’s name
  • Page number/lines
  • Publishing year

Take note: If the source you are citing has no author (in the case of web pages), then write the title instead.


I will mention the author’s name for this example.

Block quotation example MLA

Take note: I did not write the author’s name at the end of the quote because his name was already mentioned earlier. On the other hand, you have to mention the author’s name after the direct quote when you did not state his/her name.

When Do You Use a Block Quote?

Students raising their hands

I rarely use block quotes in my academic papers. If I do, I use it for the following reasons:

  • The quote is too difficult to paraphrase.
  • I need to emphasize my argument/s.
  • When I fear that I would lose the essence of the author’s statements when paraphrasing.

Given my experience, I believe you should add block quotations to your essay for the aforementioned reasons. Of course, a student’s dirty secret would be to use it to make your paper lengthier—been there done that. While that is true, don’t abuse it!

Chances are, your professor might prescribe a limit on the length of block quotes (Ex: 10% of the word count). Placing too many block quotes might be considered as plagiarism.

Students and teachers: Thumbs up

Thank you for reading my guide on MLA block quotations. Quotes are a great addition to your essay, but you should use them appropriately. Have fun placing quotes in your essay. Oh! Please don’t forget to cite them!

 Till next time, dear readers!

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