MLA Checklist































































































Checklist 8: Block Quotes


Does your paper have at least one block quote?


Are all your block quotes at least five lines long?


Are any of your block quotes shorter than five lines of text?

  • If your quote is not long enough, that is, if your quote is four lines or less, then it should not be formatted as a block quote, but instead it should be formatted as an in-line quote. (That is, it should be placed in quotation marks in the body of your paragraph).

Did you introduce block quotes with a signal phrase followed (in most cases) by a colon?


Did you single-space your block quotes?


Did you indent your block quotes a full inch from the left margin? (One inch from the left margin equals two inches from the left edge of the page).


Did you indent the first line of your block quote (more than the other lines)?

  • Fix it. Your block quotes should have an even left margin.

Did you use quotation marks to indicate that the block quote is sombody else's words?

  • Fix it. Block quotes do not get put within quotation marks. Block formatting is itself an indicator that the words are not your own.

Did you put the final period of the block quote before the parenthetical citation?

  • Block quotes get punctuated differently from in-line quotes.
    • In block quotes, the final period comes before the parentheses.
    • In in-line quotes, the final period goes after the parentheses.

Study these examples:

"This is an in-line quote" (Johnson).

This is a block quote. (Johnson)



Are your block quotes no more than 10 lines of text?

  • If your block quote is more than ten lines, try shortening it by using ellipses, or ask the teacher for special permission to use it.

Did you center your block quote?

  • Block quotes should not be centered. The left margin should be wider, certainly, but the right margin should be the same as the margin for the rest of the page.
  • To fix it, select your block quote, click on the icon for align left, then use the ruler bar to slide the left margin over to the 1" mark.

Did you "justify" your block quote? In other words, does your block quote have an even left margin and an even right margin?

  • Block quotes should not be justified. Block quotes should have an even left margin but a ragged right margin.
  • To fix it, select the block quote and click on the align left icon on the menu bar.

Did you use more than one block quote from the same source in a single paper?

  • If you did, you are probably overusing that source.
  • While it is okay to use the same source more than once in a long paper, there is really no reason to do it in a short, five-paragraph essay. Check with the teacher to make sure you're on the right track.

Did you paraphrase the block quote? In other words, did you put the quote into your own words?

  • Block formatting indicates a direct quote, so the words in the block quote should be the exact words of the original author.
  • For the sake of clarity, you may leave out an introductory transition word, or replace a pronoun with a name. If you replace a pronoun with a name, place it in square brackets.

Here is an example:

If the author's original sentence was:

  • But the use of torture increased after he came to power.

I might, for the sake of clarity and readability, change it to:

  • According to Johnson, “The use of torture increased after [Noriega] came to power” (Johnson).

Did you use a block quote to convey information that could equally well be put into your own words?

  • Block quotes should only be used to lend authority to your own writing. If there is nothing special about the style or author of the words you are quoting, then the information should probably be put into your own words. Consult with the teacher.