Set up your documents for success: displayed quotations

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Long quotations

Long quotations that cover three lines or more, or contain forty plus words need to be ‘displayed’. That means they are set out as separate from the main text. This can also be called ‘indented’ or ‘block’ quotes but I’ll use the term displayed. A displayed quote is an indented paragraph with no quotation marks, unless they are part of the actual text, in which case (in OSCOLA) they should be double marks.

Most law proofreaders and editors will format the text of a block quote with a slightly smaller font and line spacing. It makes the quotation stand out from the main text and is pleasing on the eye. So, if you are using 12-pt font for the general text with 1.5 line spacing, use 11-pt for a block quote with 1.15 line spacing, and 10-pt font with single line spacing for the footnotes. In the example below, the original text of this paragraph was 11-pt font with 1.15 line spacing, the block quote is 10-pt font with single line spacing.

Quick and easy formatting of block quotations

Now, you might think that entering displayed quotes is a bit of a tiresome exercise. Do you need to count the number of words each time, and then fiddle about with line spacing, font size and indents? The answer is no. This is where Word is on your side. You just need to decide on the format you would like to use for your quotes, set it up the first time and save as a ‘style’ and away you go. Each time you have to ‘display’ a quote, just type in the words, highlight the text or click the paragraph, then click the style and Word does it all for you.

Here’s a set-by-step guide:

1. Check the number of words

Check the word count of a quotation
Check the word count of a quotation

First, if it’s a borderline case and you’re not sure whether there are 40 or more words, then just roll over the quote and highlight it with a left-click of the mouse. With the text still highlighted, go along to the review tab in the ribbon, and click the fourth icon along Word Count. The dialog box will tell you the exact number of words.

Next, decide on dimensions you’d like to use for displayed quotes. For example, use the same font, but two sizes smaller, so 10 pt rather than 12 pt, single line spacing with a 6 pt space after and indented by 2 cm each side. Select the words that form the quotation and use the Font and Paragraph options on the Home Tab for style them as you wish. In the example below I have changed the indentation and the line spacing to the dimensions above.

Setting the linespacing and indentation
Setting the linespacing and indentation

2. Choose your style


Save the new style
Save the new style

Once you’re happy that quote looks good, and that it’s the style you’d like to apply to all future quotes throughout your work, all that remains to do is to save the format into Styles. Highlight or click on the quote paragraph and go to the Styles on the right-hand side of the Home tab ribbon. Click the little arrow on the bottom right-hand edge and drop down the menu. Go to ‘Create New Style’ > give your style a name, I used Liz’s quotes here, and then click OK. That’s it. All done. You’ll see that the new style with the name you gave it has appeared in the Styles ribbon.

3. Save the new style

The next time you need to type in a quote, just copy out the wording, highlight the text or ensure the cursor is in the correct paragraph and click on your named style. Hey presto, the text will change to the format you have selected and saved.