Quotations Broken into Paragraphs


Quotations Broken into Paragraphs

For long quotations that should be written in separate paragraphs, the standard is to precede the opening word of each paragraph with quotation marks, but reserve the closing quotation mark to be used after the last word of the last paragraph. Consider the following quotation from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick:

“I quickly followed suit, and descending into the bar-room accosted the grinning landlord very pleasantly. I cherished no malice towards him, though he had been skylarking with me not a little in the matter of my bedfellow.

“However, a good laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing; the more’s the pity. So, if any one man, in his own proper person, afford stuff for a good joke to anybody, let him not be backward, but let him cheerfully allow himself to spend and be spent in that way. And the man that has anything bountifully laughable about him, be sure there is more in that man than you perhaps think for.

“The bar-room was now full of the boarders who had been dropping in the night previous, and whom I had not as yet had a good look at. They were nearly all whalemen; chief mates, and second mates, and third mates, and sea carpenters, and sea coopers, and sea blacksmiths, and harpooneers, and ship keepers; a brown and brawny company, with bosky beards; an unshorn, shaggy set, all wearing monkey jackets for morning gowns.”

Adopting this usage of quotation marks in formal writing gives us an easy and obvious way to recognize that the quotation continues over several paragraphs. All conventions above also apply to long quotations such as this. For instance, if the above was included as part of another direct quotation – as in an account of someone reading this to a class – the long quote would be enclosed by single quotation marks.
Punctuation in and around quotations: Punctuating quoted text may seem complex, but remembering a few simple rules will help clear up the process.

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