I am writing a paper in MLA style, where the first line of each new paragraph is indented once. However, I wish to use a block quote on the second like of a paragraph, which must also be indented once on every line of the quote, as I understand.

However, this looks confusing as the first line of the paragraph could be mistaken as being part of the block quote. Does this mean that I should indent the block quote twice in order to differentiate it from the first, indented line of the paragraph, or would this violate the MLA style?

  • Clearly, the MLA style could be improved here. Jun 7 '17 at 13:25
  • 1
    MLA 8th edition is actually entirely silent on the subject of paragraph indentation, so far as I can tell. Under certain limited circumstances it licenses indenting the first line of the quote an additional 1/4", so that might possibly be an option. I would probably try to re-word the first sentence so that it is clearly part of your text, however. That is, use an introductory phrase like In their seminal work "Journal Article", Jones and Lee clearly stated set off with the traditional colon; maybe add in an extra few words to run it onto a second line, too.
    – 1006a
    Jun 7 '17 at 13:53
  • @1006a: According to Purdue Owl, they want their paragraphs indented 0.5in. This appears to be the same amount they want their block quotes indented. (Some sites on the internet say 1in for both of these, so apparently they've changed their style recently.) Jun 7 '17 at 14:43
  • @PeterShor Yes, as of the 7th edition, that was the standard; however, in at least one past edition it was 1/2" for first line of paragraph and 1" for block quotes, and in the current (8th) edition it is 1/2" for block quotes with no guidance whatsoever for body text paragraphs. For block quotes that include text from multiple paragraphs, the first line of the quoted paragraphs can be indented an additional 1/4" (so 3/4" total), but not if it wasn't the first line of the paragraph in the source material.
    – 1006a
    Jun 7 '17 at 14:49
  • Obviously rewriting is an easy option, but the point of style guides is to direct the format with which a text is presented, and not its content. Clearly this indentation issue may be worth addressing in the next MLA style edition. Jun 8 '17 at 14:38

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