MLA Block Quotes – Formatting Explained (8th Edition)

08.02.23 MLA citation & referencing Time to read: 5min

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Block quotes in MLA style are used when quoting an extensive text block, usually exceeding four lines of prose or three lines of verse. When using an MLA block quote, the quote should follow the specific format presented in this article. Block quoting allows for the seamless integration of longer quotations while maintaining the visual integrity of your paper, helping your readers to distinguish between your words and the quoted material.

MLA Block Quotes – In a Nutshell

  • MLA block quotes are used when the quote text exceeds four lines.
  • MLA block quotes are used when a poem has more than three lines.
  • The left edge of MLA block quotes is indented by 0.5 inches.
  • If the source material does not have quotation marks, it should not be used.

Definition and Requirements for MLA Block Quotes

When including lengthy quotations in an MLA document, they must be formatted as block quotes. The eighth edition of this style manual mandates MLA block quotes formatting for:

  • Poetry quotations longer than three lines
  • Prose quotes longer than four lines

MLA block quotes begin on a new line, are indented 0.5 inches, and do not contain quotation marks. The MLA in-text citation should be placed following the period after the block quotation.

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Steps to MLA Block Quotes

Follow these four basic steps to create MLA block quotes:

Step 1: Introducing the Block Quote

Always preface MLA block quotes with your words. Start with a phrase or two explaining why you’re using the quote and how it relates to your thesis. Insert a colon after the introductory statement, then begin the quotation on a new line.

Step 2: Formatting of the Block Quote

Like the rest of your document, MLA block quotes should be double-spaced. Use a half-inch indentation to the left of the page for the complete quote. All capitalization, punctuation, and line breaks must be preserved from the source material.

Step 3: Correctly Citing the Block Quote

Add an in-text MLA citation immediately before the final punctuation point after the quotation. This section includes the author(s) and the page(s) from which the quotation is drawn. Each citation inside the text must relate to an entry in the Works Cited list.

Step 4: analysing the Block Quote

Underneath the block quotation, include an analysis or commentary on the quoted material. Never conclude a paragraph with a block quotation; always begin and end with your own words.

MLA Block Quoting Poetry or Plays

You should use MLA block quotes if you wish to quote a chunk of text longer than four lines or a section of poetry longer than three lines. The MLA block quote format is also utilized when citing lines from a play. Always introduce MLA block quotes with your own words. You should inform the reader the source and purpose of the quotation.

Block Quoting Excerpts of Books

  • When directly quoting a paragraph, the initial line of the block quote should not be indented more than the rest of the sentence.
  • When quoting two or more paragraphs, indent the first opening sentence of each paragraph half an inch, or five spaces.
  • Indent the first line of the second paragraph of a multi-paragraph quote by half an inch, if the first sentence is not the first sentence of a section.

Poetry Block Quotes

Unless the poetry contains irregular spacing or formatting, format it as you would any other piece of prose:

  • Indent 0.5 inches or five spaces from the left margin.
  • Do not use quotation marks unless they are included in the source.
  • If the line of poetry does not fit on a single line of the paper, continue it on the following line, but add a hanging indent.
  • When citing more significant portions of poetry, format the citation as closely as feasible to the original.

Block Quoting Plays and Dramas

MLA block quotes from plays are formatted slightly differently than those from prose or poetry.

To format the dialogueue in plays:

  • Use a half-inch (five-space) left margin indent.
  • Start with the character’s name in all capital characters, followed by a period.
  • If a character spans multiple lines, indent the successive lines by a half-inch or five spaces.
  • If there are blank lines at the start of a dialogueue sequence after the character’s name.
  • Include all of the extra spaces in your copy of the printed script.
  • The above format should be used when the conversation moves on to a new character.
  • Avoid using page numbers when referencing text and instead refer to the specific act, scene, and line.
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Quotes Inside MLA Block Quotes

To block quote a passage that includes a quote, you must use quotation marks around the inner quote.


Similar to his introduction of Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s initial description of Daisy swiftly conveys her attraction and charm:

I laughed along with her ridiculous, endearing giggle and stepped forward into the room. “My happiness has rendered me p-paralysed.” She laughed again, as if she had said something clever, and held my hand for a time while gazing up into my face, assuring me that there was no one else in the world she desired to see more. This was one of her ways. (Fitzgerald 11)

Shortening MLA Block Quotes

You can abbreviate MLA block quotes by adding ellipses (…) to denote that some material has been omitted. If you condense a quote like this, ensure that you do not alter the author’s original intent or omit crucial context. If you wish to omit a line of poetry, you can denote this with a line of periods roughly the same length as the line.


I adore sun-kissed nations,


Regarding jagged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and torrential downpours.


  • When citing more than four lines from a source in MLA format, use block quotes.
  • Use MLA block quotes for poetry quotations longer than three lines.

To format a block quotation in MLA format:

  • On a new line, introduce the quotation with a colon.
  • Indent the entyre quotation 0.5 inches from the left margin.
  • Place the MLA in-text citation following the period after the block quotation.
  • Then, proceed with writing on a new line (not indented).

Follow these instructions to format MLA block quotes correctly in Microsoft Word:

  • Press Enter at the start and end of the quote.
  • Select the Layout menu after highlighting the quote.
  • Change the left indentation to 0.5 inches on the Indent tab.
  • Include an in-text reference following the period after the quote.