block quotations

Don’t go on and on

For­mat­ting block quo­ta­tions isn’t hard. Reduce the point size and line spacing slightly. Indent the text block between half an inch and a full inch on the left side, and option­ally the same on the right. As with first-line indents, make the side indents large enough to be noticed, but not so large that the line length is too short. Don’t put quo­ta­tion marks at the ends. They’re redun­dant.

Block quo­ta­tions are some­times unavoid­able. If a dis­pute involves the inter­pre­ta­tion of an agree­ment, accu­racy may demand exten­sive quot­ing.

But as a means of tex­tual empha­sis, block quo­ta­tions some­times become, like all caps, a form of self-defeat­ing typog­ra­phy. Lawyers often dump text into a block quo­ta­tion because they want to sig­nalThis source is really impor­tant, so I’ve quoted a lot of it!”

Instead, the actual sig­nal a reader often gets isHere’s some­thing long and dull from another case whose mean­ing and rel­e­vance you’ll have to fig­ure out for your­self because I can’t be both­ered to sum­ma­rize it!”

The reader’s next thought is usu­allyGreat—I can skip this.”