Learning HTML 3.2 by Examples, section 5 Descriptions of HTML 3.2 tags:

BLOCKQUOTE - long quotation


To present a (typically long) quotation to be rendered as a block of its own (in contrast to shorter quotations embedded into text paragraphs).

Typical rendering

As a separate paragraph (or sequence of paragraphs). Often indented (perhaps both at the left and at the right). Often in a font different from that of normal text, typically in italics.

Basic syntax

quoted text

Possible attributes


Allowed context

Block container.


Headings, text elements, block elements, and ADDRESS elements.

In HTML 4.0 Strict, text elements may not occur directly within a BLOCKQUOTE element but must be enclosed into e.g. a P element.


Example BLOCKQUOTE.html:

<P>The original context of the saying <I>O tempora, o mores</I> is
the following:</P>
O tempora, o mores!
Senatus haec intellegit. consul videt; hic tamen vivit.
Vivit? immo vero etiam in senatum venit, fit publici consilii particeps,
notat et designat oculis ad caedem unum quemque nostrum.
<A HREF="http://www.utexas.edu/depts/classics/documents/Cic.html">
<A HREF="http://www.utexas.edu/depts/classics/documents/cat1.html">
<CITE>Oratio in Catilinam Prima</CITE></A>, 2


Basically, a quotation is an exact copy of somebody's words. (However, exactness does not normally imply using the same layout and fonts.) If you explain somebody's opinions or reports in your own words, it is not a quotation and should be presented as normal text (without any special markup).

Since BLOCKQUOTE is a block element, it is normally used for relatively long quotations. As regards to short quotations to be presented with no paragraph breaks around them, present them using text level markup. In special cases, you might use CODE, SAMP, KBD or CITE, but in the general case you have to resort to specifying the physical presentation, e.g. using italics (I element) or quotes according to your preferences and the norms of the language you use. (There is no generic text-level element for quotations in HTML 3.2, mainly because the rules for presenting such quotations are different in different languages.)

If it is essential to have the text displayed as it is written (with respect to division into lines and the use of blanks and tabs), consider using PRE.

When describing man-machine interaction, use the specific elements CODE, SAMP and KBD for quotations of program code, program output, and keyboard input.

Do not use BLOCKQUOTE to achieve indentation. A browser may or may not use indentation to present BLOCKQUOTE.

It is considered good form to specify the source of quotation in some suitable way. Often this is even required by the law (copyright legislation). If possible, provide a hyperlink to the source document on the Web in addition to specifying the source in the text.

The BLOCKQUOTE element itself provides no structured way of presenting source information. The example above presents one method of doing so.

If you do not like the font used by browsers for BLOCKQUOTE, there is not very much to be done; however, style sheets may change this. If you wish to enforce e.g. italics font to be used (if possible), using the I element, remember that as a text element it does not allow e.g. paragraph breaks (or a BLOCKQUOTE) within it, so you must use a separate I element within each paragraph (P element).

As an exception to quotations being exact reproductions of the quoted text, you may leave out words which are irrelevant in the context of the quotation even if they appear in the middle of the quoted text; in such cases you should indicate the omission clearly (the notations - - and ... are the most common ways of doing this). Be very careful in such omissions; it is easy, but quite inappropriate, to quote someone selectively so that he seems to say something very different from what he really said - perhaps even just the opposite. As another exception, when necessary you may add clarifying words but only to convey the original meaning appropriately, not to change it to conform to your own thoughts. Typically, you add the correlate of a pronoun like it. You should clearly indicate such clarifications as not being part of the original; the most common way to do this is to put them into square brackets.

Date of last update: 2010-12-16.
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