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How do I properly place a comma after a big block-quote? Let's say I have a sentence like this:

The author states: < a big quote goes here. >, therefore...

Since my sentence continues after the quote, it is sometimes necessary to put a comma or some other punctuation mark after the quote. However, sometimes the quote is inserted as a big block of text that is formatted in a special way (like on this site). How do I do it in this case? The following doesn't really seem right to me:

  • The author states:

    Some big quote

    goes here.

    , therefore...

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A semicolon (;), not a comma, is required before therefore, unless it's something like this: "Johnson says [BIG BLOCK QUOTE], therefore, instead of [SOMETHING ELSE]." –  user21497 Oct 5 '12 at 7:01
    
@Bill, thanks, didn't know that... I thought it should be surrounded with two commas in any case... The question still stands though :P –  SingerOfTheFall Oct 5 '12 at 7:05
1  
A block quote effectively delimits itself from the main body -- no punctuation should be used. –  Kris Oct 5 '12 at 7:10
1  
I don't think it's possible to give a good answer to the question without seeing the length of the quote. While it seems to be a style manual rule of thumb that more than 40 words verbatim should be in a block quote, there's no rule that says a shorter quote can't be blocked. It depends on how it looks in print and how complex it is. The more complex, the more difficult to understand, and the more reason to break up the piece of discourse into shorter sentences. Clarity, brevity, and ease of understanding: the Three Oarsmen of Communication. –  user21497 Oct 5 '12 at 7:14
    
I'd just start a new sentence after the blockquote: "Therefore, &c". @BillFranke +1, but that boat seems doomed to travel in circles -- or perhaps each oarsman pulls two oars? Perhaps Ease is the helmsman? –  StoneyB Oct 5 '12 at 12:40
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can see just in this forum that sentences are not generally continued after block quotes.

However, it is explicitly stated in the MLA style guide that the sentence preceding a long quote set off by indentation should end with a colon, that the quotation should end with a period, and that the next sentence should continue at the normal indentation after the quotation.

The following shows this...

This is a block quote:

Indent this, then end the sentence with a period.

Continue afterward with another sentence.

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MLA may prescribe this, but Chicago allows many kinds of punctuation mark or none at all before block quotes. Using colons before every block quote (especially if you have at least a few) will give you unnecessarily halting prose. If you're writing an essay/document of any length, you should really mix it up a little and put your quotations naturally into your sentences. –  Dave Apr 8 '13 at 0:31
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In this case I do not think it makes sense to try to continue the sentence. A quote that is long enough to be blocked and indented is one that likely has multiple sentences within it. For that reason, the reader's cognitive frame may already have changed to that of the author of the quote.

As such, it would probably be better to continue with a short recap that segues to your own thought: "Because X believes in Y, X is therefore committed to..." or something like that.

With short quotes that are less than a sentence long, feel free to include your comma. In that case you include the comma before the closing quotation mark.

Note that block quotes don't have quotation marks, and so on that grounds it also kind of makes sense that they don't accept commas linking the quotation to the main body of text.

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