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Block quotes are used to indent and separate a quoted comment from your own writing. Unlike normal indents, adding block quotes in Microsoft Word requires some additional steps.

Because academic writing is written to strict styling standards, the requirements for block quotes in Word differ from style to style. Thankfully, you can tweak the size of any indents by using the ruler bar or by using the “Paragraph” settings in the “Layout” menu or “Paragraph” settings window.

RELATED: How to Use Rulers in Microsoft Word

Using the Layout Menu

The quickest way to add block quotes to a Microsoft Word document is to use the “Paragraph” settings that are visible in the “Layout” tab on the ribbon bar.

To add a block quote using this menu, open your Word document and select your quote text. From the ribbon bar, click the “Layout” tab to display the “Paragraph” settings.

In Word, select your block quote, then press the "Layout" tab on the ribbon bar.

Block quotes in both the APA and MLA style must start on their own line and have indents to the left that are 0.5cm in size. In the APA style, block quotes must be at least 40 words in length, while in the MLA style, quotes must be at least four lines long.


If you use a different academic style, please refer to your style guide to ensure that the indent sizing you use is correct.

As both APA and MLA use 0.5cm indents for block quotes, set the “Left Indent” value to “0.5 cm” and hit the enter key to confirm. Alternatively, use the arrow buttons on the right to increase the indent sizing using increments of 0.1cm.

Setting the "Left Indent" value to "0.5 cm".

This will change the indent size for the text you selected, creating a block quote in the process. You can then add formatting, such as italics, to make the text stand out further. You’ll need to repeat these steps for each additional block quote you add to your document.

Using the Ruler Bar

In earlier editions of Microsoft Word, the easiest way to add a block quote to a Word document was to use the ruler bar, which shows the margins and indents currently in use. However, the ruler bar is no longer visible by default in more recent versions.

While it remains a quick and easy method for adding a block quote, you’ll need to enable the ruler bar first. To do this, open your Word document and click the “View” tab on the ribbon bar.

In the “Show” category, select the checkbox next to the “Ruler” option to enable the ruler.

Click View > Ruler to enable the ribbon bar in Microsoft Word


This will display the ruler at the top and to the left of your document. The areas in white are within the print area of the document, matching the margins of the document page. Each point on the ruler is 0.25cm in size.

To set a block quote indent, select your quote, then drag the hourglass-style icons on the top of the menu bar until both the top and bottom icons sit at the 0.5cm point.

This will create a block quote indent that is 0.5cm in size, suitable for APA and MLA academic style documents.

Using the Paragraph Settings Menu

You can also use the “Paragraph” settings menu in Microsoft Word to set a block quote indent.

To do this, select the text containing the block quote in your document, right-click the text, then choose the “Paragraph” option from the menu.

Right-click the selected block quote, then press the "Paragraph" settings option

In the “Indents And Spacing” tab of the “Paragraph” menu, you can apply an indent to your selected text.


As APA and MLA block quotes require 0.5cm left indents, set the “Left Indentation” value to “0.5 cm” and hit enter. If you’re using another academic style, check your style quide for the correct sizing to use here.

You can type the value manually or use the arrow keys on the text box to increase the indent in 0.1cm increments.

Set the "Left Indentation" value to "0.5cm" to add a block quote in Word

Click “OK” to save your settings and apply the block quote indent to your selected text.

Click "OK" to save the paragraph settings to your document.

Once saved, the 0.5cm indent will be applied to your text, creating a block quote in the process. You’ll need to repeat these steps for each additional block quote you add to your document.

Ben Stockton Ben Stockton
Ben Stockton is a freelance tech writer from the United Kingdom. In a past life, he was a UK college lecturer, training teens and adults. Since leaving the classroom, he's been a tech writer, writing how-to articles and tutorials for MakeUseOf, MakeTechEasier, and He has a degree in History and a postgraduate qualification in Computing.
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