Block Quote Format

First, some disclaimers:

  • DO NOT use a block quote just to take up space. This tactic is really obvious and will not get you a good grade.
  • Whether you’re using a block quote or a regular quote, the explanation should be longer than the quote. So if you have a 5-line block quote, your explanation should be about 5 lines as well.
  • You use a block quote because ALL OF IT is important; thus, you should be specifically analyzing multiple parts of the quote. In my example below, parts of the explanation are color-coded according to the parts of the quote they analyze.

Block quote instructions:

  • Use a block quote for quotes that are more than three full lines in normal format.
  • Do not put the quote in quotation marks.
  • Start the quote on a new line, with the entire quote indented one inch from the left margin.
  • Your citation should come after the closing punctuation mark.
  • When quoting verse, maintain original line breaks.

Example paragraph with a block quote:

Romeo’s love seems more based in looks and first impressions than in any connection to a girl’s personality. He and Rosaline barely know each other, and he focuses mainly on her appearance in his descriptions of her. Referring to Rosaline, he says, “One fairer than my love! the all-seeing sun / Ne’er saw her match since first the world begun” (I.ii.99-100). Romeo uses a hyperbole to state that no one could be as beautiful as Rosaline; indeed, the “all-seeing sun” is not aware of anyone as beautiful as Rosaline, despite having gazed on the earth for all time. His singular focus on Rosaline’s looks overshadows any focus on personality. Similarly, Romeo falls desperately in love with Juliet the moment he sees her, before knowing her as a person at all. He speaks to himself,
(WordPress format fail: There shouldn’t be an extra space after this line; it should all be evenly double spaced)

O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
. . .
Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight!
For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night. (I.v.51-60)
(WordPress format fail: There shouldn’t be an extra space after this line; it should all be evenly double spaced)

Romeo uses reverential diction to describe Juliet’s appearance. He first emphasizes that not only does her beauty burn as strongly as a torch, but she could “teach” torches to burn; she is the master of being beautiful fire. Romeo then uses a simile to compare Juliet to “a rich jewel,” an object that is profoundly beautiful as well as rare and widely desired. Jewels are admired and desired for their physical beauty, just as Romeo admires and desired Juliet for her physical beauty. Finally, Romeo decides that he has never truly been in love or seen “true beauty.” The word “for” in his final line here draws a logical connection between the true love in his heart and the true beauty in front of him. Juliet’s beauty causes Romeo to fall in love with her; in Romeo’s mind, beauty, not personality, leads to love. In addition, stating that he has not actually been in love previously, Romeo suggests a contrast between his love for Rosaline, who no longer seems truly beautiful in his eyes, and his love for Juliet, which is somehow more “true.” His quick rejection of Rosaline casts doubt on Romeo’s pronouncements about true love. He loves both Rosaline and Juliet for their appearance, but has yet to truly fall in love with a woman’s personality.

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