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How to Block a Paragraph


Blocking paragraphs can be an effective way to include longer passages from outside sources in an academic paper. Blocking sets the outside content off from the writer's own words through formatting. Blocking a paragraph is different from a block paragraph. Blocking is used for a long direct quotation from an outside source. Block paragraphs, often used in business letters, are entire paragraphs flush to the margin with one line of space between them.

Ask the instructor which citation style to use. The most common styles are Modern Language Association (MLA) for liberal arts and humanities, American Psychological Association (APA) for social sciences, and Chicago for history.

Find a quotation suitable for blocking. Guidelines vary based on citation style:

For MLA, the quotation must be more than four lines of prose or verse.

For APA, it must be more than 40 words.

For Chicago, it must be five or more lines.

Introduce the quotation in your own words, and then type it verbatim on a new line without quotation marks.

In word processing software, select all the quotation text, then use the bottom slider on the ruler at the top of the screen to indent or block the text. If you're using MLA, indent 1 full inch. If you're using APA or Chicago, indent 1/2 inch. Alternatively, use the "Tab" key to indent each line of text. One tab equals 1/2 inch.

Leave the blocked text double-spaced if you're using MLA or APA guidelines. In Chicago style, which requires single-spaced text, select it with the mouse and then use the "Line Spacing" button on the toolbar or right-click and use the "Line Spacing" drop-down box on the "Paragraph" menu.

Insert a citation at the end of the blocked quotation. Insert a parenthetical citation after the period in the quotation if you're using APA or MLA style. Use the number of the foot- or endnote for Chicago style. Do not place a second period after the citation.

Leave one line of space between the blocked text and the next line of the paragraph.

Items you will need
Word processing software
About the Author

Stephanie Monsanty earned bachelor's degrees in English literature and history from the University of Mount Union. She has been a writing tutor since 2008 and has contributed to College Prowler. Monsanty is pursuing a master's degree in English at the University of Cincinnati, concentrating on professional writing and editing.