How to format different kinds of quotations

When you’re incorporating quotations in a nonfiction work, there are two ways to do it. Short quotations can be placed inline, in which case you use quotation marks. Longer quotations should be placed in a block format, in which case you don’t need the marks.

using quotation marks
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For example, a short quotation might be something like, “Prose extracts (also known as block quotations) should have double line spacing,” as stated in The Chicago Manual of Style.

That kind of quote and reference is sufficient for most general market works. Scholarly works require a more precise citation format, which will vary depending on which style book you use. For a quick primer on the most common styles, see the Purdue Online Writing Lab.

In your manuscript, your block quotations will have minimal formatting.

Prose extracts (also known as block quotations) should have double line spacing and be indented from the left margin using your word processor’s indent feature. The first line should not have an additional paragraph indent. If there is more than one paragraph within the extract, new paragraphs should have an additional first-line paragraph indent, which can be created using the Tab key or your software’s paragraph indention feature. Use hard returns (i.e., the Enter key) only at the end of the extract and after any paragraphs within the extract. (Chicago, 2.18)

The page designer will later dress the block quotation up with perhaps different indenting, line spacing, or spacing before and after.

Quotations in fiction

If a character in a novel is thinking about something she’s read, it’s usually put in plain type and paraphrased, because we rarely remember things verbatim.

Blayse remembered reading something in the Chicago manual about not indenting the first paragraph of a block quotation.

But on the off chance that your character is as compulsive as Blayse and has memorized a passage, it could be rendered in italics.

She formatted an indent at the beginning of the second paragraph, because the style book said new paragraphs should have an additional first-line paragraph indent.

If the character is reading or reciting the passage aloud to another person, you have a quotation within a quotation, which calls for those single quotation marks we talked about before.

“Listen,” Blayse said, “It’s right here in the style book. ‘The first line should not have an additional paragraph indent.’ No indent.”

Chicago has more to say about block quotations, but those are the basics.

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