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How To Format A Block Quote In Word: A Step-By-Step Guide

Published by at December 22nd, 2023 , Revised On February 5, 2024

Precision and adherence to formatting standards are crucial in academic and professional writing. Whether you are working on a research paper, a thesis, or a business report, properly knowing how to format a block quote in Microsoft Word is essential. Block quotes emphasise and provide evidence for your arguments by directly quoting a significant portion of text from a source.

In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the intricacies of formatting block quotes in Word, step by step, ensuring that your document maintains clarity, professionalism, and proper citation.

Understanding The Purpose Of Block Quotes

Before we discuss the technical aspects of formatting block quotes, it is important to understand why and when they should be used in your writing.

“A block quote, also known as a long quotation, is a verbatim excerpt from a source that is typically longer than 40 words (though this may vary depending on style guides).”

Block quotes are used for several reasons:


  • They highlight important information, allowing readers to pay special attention to the quoted text.


  • Block quotes provide strong evidence to support your arguments or assertions by showcasing expert opinions or authoritative sources.


  • In some cases, using a block quote is clearer than paraphrasing or summarising a complex idea.

However, using block quotes sparingly and only when necessary is crucial. Overusing them can disrupt the flow of your writing and make your document less engaging.

Step-By-Step Guide To Formatting A Block Quote In Word

Now that we understand the purpose of block quotes, let us plunge into the process of formatting them correctly in Microsoft Word.

Step 1: Open Your Document In Microsoft Word

If you have not already, open your Microsoft Word document and ensure you are at the location where you want to insert the block quote.

Step 2: Select the Text For The Block Quote

Highlight the text you want to include in the block quote. Make sure it is a substantial portion of text, typically longer than 40 words, to justify using a block quote.

Step 3: Insert The Block Quote

With the text selected, go to the “Insert” tab in the Word toolbar. Click on “Text Box” in the “Text” group, and select “Simple Text Box.”

Step 4: Format The Block Quote

Once the text is in the box, you must format it to appear as a block quote. Here’s how:

Remove Quotation Marks

  • Block quotes do not require quotation marks. Delete any existing quotation marks in the text box.

Single-Space The Text

  • Block quotes are typically single-spaced. Highlight the text, right-click, and choose “Paragraph.” In the “Line spacing” dropdown, select “Single.”

Indent The Block Quote

  • In the “Paragraph” dialog box, find the “Special” dropdown menu under “Indentation.” Choose “Hanging” to create the standard block quote indentation.

Step 5: Add The Harvard Style In-Text Citation

  • After the block quote, place your cursor where you want to insert the in-text citation.
  • Follow the Harvard style guidelines for in-text citations, including the author’s last name and the year of publication in parentheses.

Step 6: Create The Reference List Entry

  • At the end of your document, create a section for the reference list.
  • List the source from which you took the block quote in the reference list according to Harvard style guidelines. Include all the necessary details: author(s), year of publication, title, place of publication, and publisher for books, or author(s), year of publication, article title, journal title, volume, issue, and page range for journal articles.

Step 7: Proofread And Adjust

Before finalising your document, carefully proofread the block quote, ensuring that it fits seamlessly into your text and maintains readability. If necessary, adjust the formatting or wording to make it flow smoothly within your document.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Formatting block quotes in Word can be straightforward, but there are common pitfalls that writers often stumble into. Here, we will not only cover the typical mistakes but also discuss some unique challenges:

Overusing Block Quotes

  • Common Mistake: Inserting block quotes excessively throughout your document.
  • Unique Insight: Overusing block quotes can dilute your voice as a writer and disrupt the flow of your narrative. Emphasise the importance of using block quotes only when the quoted text significantly contributes to your argument.

Ignoring Style Guide Rules

  • Common Mistake: Neglecting to adhere to the specific formatting rules of the chosen style guide.
  • Unique Insight: Failure to follow style guide rules can lead to inconsistency in your document. Mention that this includes not only block quote formatting but also issues like improper citation style.

Lengthy Block Quotes Without Analysis

  • Common Mistake: Including long block quotes without providing proper analysis or context.
  • Unique Insight: Block quotes should not stand alone but should be accompanied by your analysis or interpretation. A block quote should enhance your argument, not replace it.

Not Checking Source Credibility

  • Common Mistake: Quoting from sources without verifying their credibility.
  • Unique Insight: Relying on sources that lack authority or might be biased. Highlight the importance of critically evaluating the reliability of the sources you quote.

Not Adjusting Block Quotes For Clarity

  • Common Mistake: Leaving block quotes untouched without adjusting them for clarity.
  • Unique Insight: Writers should not hesitate to make minor adjustments to block quotes, such as adding clarifying words in square brackets, to ensure that the quoted text aligns with the context of their own writing.

Forgetting To Introduce Block Quotes

  • Common Mistake: Failing to introduce block quotes with context or explanation.
  • Unique Insight: Readers should not be left to interpret block quotes on their own. Encourage writers to provide brief introductions to explain why they are including a particular block quote and how it supports their argument.

Misusing Ellipses

  • Common Mistake: Misusing ellipses (…) within block quotes.
  • Unique Insight: Ellipses are used to indicate omissions within a quote but should be used judiciously and never in a way that distorts the original meaning of the text. Provide guidance on the proper use of ellipses.

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Best Practices For Using Block Quotes

Formatting block quotes correctly is essential, but it’s equally important to use them effectively in your writing. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

Use Block Quotes Sparingly

  • Reserve block quotes for instances where the quoted text is substantial and directly relevant to your argument. Overuse can make your writing appear cluttered.

Introduce Block Quotes

  • Always provide context or an introductory sentence before a block quote. Explain why you are including it and how it supports your argument.

Maintain Consistency

  • Ensure that your block quotes are consistently formatted throughout your document. Consistency in formatting enhances the professional appearance of your work.

Cite Accurately

  • Properly cite the source of the block quote according to the citation style you are using (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago). Accuracy in citation is essential for academic and professional integrity.
  • Edit with Care: If necessary, edit the block quote to fit your document’s context, but do so carefully to avoid altering the original meaning of the quoted text.

Online Tools And Resources

Here are some online tools and resources that can assist you in formatting block quotes and managing citations effectively:

Online Citation Generators

Style Guide Manuals

  • APA Style Guide
  • MLA Handbook
  • The Chicago Manual of Style


Understanding how to format a block quote in Word is a valuable skill for anyone engaged in academic or professional writing. When used judiciously and correctly, block quotes can enhance the clarity and credibility of your work by providing direct evidence and emphasising key points. By following the step-by-step guide and best practices outlined in this article, you can confidently incorporate block quotes into your documents while maintaining professionalism and adherence to citation standards. Remember, the goal is to include block quotes and use them effectively to strengthen your writing and convey your ideas with clarity and precision.


To create a block quote in Microsoft Word, select the text you want to quote, then go to the “Insert” tab, choose “Text Box,” and select “Simple Text Box.” Format the text box as a block quote by removing quotation marks, single-spacing the text, and using a hanging indent.

The main difference is in formatting and usage. A block quote is typically a longer, indented quotation (usually 40 words or more) used to emphasise or support a point. A regular quotation is shorter and incorporated into the main text.

Yes, you should always cite a block quote in Word. After the block quote, include an in-text citation with the author’s name and the publication year in parentheses, following your citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).

In academic writing, a block quote is typically reserved for quotations that are 40 words or longer. However, it’s important to consult your style guide or instructor’s preferences, as requirements may vary.

Yes, Microsoft Word allows you to customise block quote formatting to align with different style guides. You can adjust font size, style, and spacing to meet the requirements of your specific style guide, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago.

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