Indent Quotes Dissertation

Using literary quotations

Use the guidelines below to learn how to use literary quotations.


For further information, check out Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Acknowledging Sources, or you may wish to see when the Writing Center is next offering its workshop entitled Intro to Literary Analysis.

Incorporating Quotations

  • As you choose quotations for a literary analysis, remember the purpose of quoting.

  • Your paper develops an argument about what the author of the text is doing--how the text "works."

  • You use quotations to support this argument; that is, you select, present, and discuss material from the text specifically to "prove" your point--to make your case--in much the same way a lawyer brings evidence before a jury.

  • Quoting for any other purpose is counterproductive.


Punctuating and Indenting Quotations

For the most part, you must reproduce the spelling, capitalization, and internal punctuation of the original exactly.

The following alterations are acceptable:

Changing the closing punctuation

You may alter the closing punctuation of a quotation in order to incorporate it into a sentence of your own:

"Books are not life," Lawrence emphasized.

Commas and periods go inside the closing quotation marks; the other punctuation marks go outside.

Lawrence insisted that books "are not life"; however, he wrote exultantly about the power of the novel.

Why does Lawrence need to point out that "Books are not life"?

Using the slash when quoting poetry

When quoting lines of poetry up to three lines long (which are not indented, see Indenting quotations), separate one line of poetry from another with a slash mark (see examples in Incorporating Quotations into Sentences).

Using Ellipsis Points for Omitted Material

If for the sake of brevity you wish to omit material from a quoted passage, use ellipsis points (three spaced periods) to indicate the omission.

(See this sample paragraph. The writer quoted only those portions of the original sentences that related to the point of the analysis.)

Using Square Brackets when Altering Material

When quoting, you may alter grammatical forms such as the tense of a verb or the person of a pronoun so that the quotation conforms grammatically to your own prose; indicate these alterations by placing square brackets around the changed form.

In the following quotation "her" replaces the "your" of the original so that the quote fits the point of view of the paper (third person):

When he hears Cordelia's answer, Lear seems surprised, but not dumbfounded. He advises her to "mend [her] speech a little." He had expected her to praise him the most; but compared to her sisters', her remarks seem almost insulting (1.1.95).


Indenting Quotations

Prose or verse quotations less than four lines long are not indented. For quotations of this length, use the patterns described above.

Indent "longer" quotations in a block about ten spaces in from the left margin; when a quotation is indented, quotation marks are not used.

The MLA Handbook (1995) recommends that indented quotations be double-spaced, but many instructors prefer them single-spaced. The meaning of "longer" varies slightly from one style system to another, but a general rule is to indent quotations that are more than two (or three) lines of verse or three (or four) lines of prose.

Indent dialogue between characters in a play. Place the speaker's name before the speech quoted:

CAESAR: Et tu, Brute! Then, fall, Caesar!

CINNA: Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead! (3.1.77-78)

For more information see Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Acknowledging Sources - How to Quote a Source.


Emphasizing Your Ideas

What to include in literary analysis

Take a look at this sample paragraph. It includes 3 basic kinds of materials:

  1. statements expressing the student's own ideas about the relationship Woolf is creating;

  2. data or evidence from the text in summarized, paraphrased, and quoted form; and

  3. discussion of how the data support the writer's interpretation.

The quotations are used in accordance with the writer's purpose, i.e. to show how the development of Mrs. Ramsey's feelings indicates something about her personality.

Should I quote?

Quoting is only one of several ways to present textual material as evidence.

You can also refer to textual data, summarize, and paraphrase. You will often want merely to refer or point to passages (as in the third sentence in the sample paragraph) that contribute to your argument.

In other cases you will want to paraphrase, i.e. "translate" the original into your own words, again instead of quoting. Summarize or paraphrase when it is not so much the language of the text that justifies your position, but the substance or content.

Quote selectively

Similarly, after you have decided that you do want to use material in quoted form, quote only the portions of the text specifically relevant to your point.

Think of the text in terms of units--words, phrases, sentences, and groups of sentences (paragraphs, stanzas)--and use only the units you need.

If it is particular words or phrases that "prove" your point, you do not need to quote the sentences they appear in; rather, incorporate the words and phrases into sentences expressing your own ideas.


Maintaining Clarity and Readability

Introduce your quotations

Introduce a quotation either by indicating what it is intended to show or by naming its source, or both.

For non-narrative poetry, it's customary to attribute quotations to "the speaker"; for a story with a narrator, to "the narrator."

For plays, novels, and other works with characters, identify characters as you quote them.

Do not use two quotations in a row, without intervening material of your own.

For further information see Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Acknowledging Sources - How to Quote a Source.

Pay attention to verb tense

Tense is a tricky issue. It's customary in literary analysis to use the present tense; it is at the present time that you (and your reader) are looking at the text.

But events in a narrative or drama take place in a time sequence. You will often need to use a past tense to refer to events that took place before the moment you are presently discussing:

When he hears Cordelia's answer, Lear seems surprised, but not dumbfounded. He advises her to "mend [her] speech a little." He had expected her to praise him the most; but compared to her sisters', her remarks seem almost insulting (1.1.95).


Documenting Quotations

Follow your course instructor's guidelines for documenting sources. If your instructor hasn't told you which system to use to document sources, ask.

Keep in mind that when you are writing a paper about the same text and quoting from the same edition that everyone else in the class is, instructors will often allow you to use informal documentation. In this case just include the page number in parentheses after the quotation or reference to the text. To be sure, though, you should ask your course instructor.

The documentation style used in this pages is that presented in the 1995 MLA Handbook, but other style systems are commonly used. The Writing Center has information about the rules of documentation in general and about a number of the most common systems, such as APA, APSA, CBE, Chicago/Turabian, MLA, and Numbered References.


Dissertation Formatting Guidelines

This section describes the dissertation format that all NYUSteinhardt doctoral candidates are required to follow. Dissertations must adhere to these requirements in order to be accepted by the Office of Doctoral Studies for the scheduling of the final oral examination. Please read this section carefully and contact the Office of Doctoral Studies if you have any questions.

Choice of Style Manual

Faculty policy leaves the choice of a style manual to the doctoral candidate with the advice and consent of his or her committee. Generally, candidates are urged to learn and use the manual most often required for scholarly writing by journals within their disciplines. Typically, the following style manuals are used by NYUSteinhardt students:

  • American Psychological Association, Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
  • Gibaldi, J., & Achtert, W. S., MLA handbook for writers of research papers
  • Turabian, K., A manual for writers of research papers, theses and dissertations
  • The University of Chicago Press, The Chicago manual of style

The most recent editions of the chosen style manuals should be used.

Print and Copy Quality

Your printer must produce consistently black letters and consistent margins. Sufficient darkness is also necessary for any supporting materials, such as tables, figures, drawings, pictures, etc., -- either as originals or as copies -- that you may need to append or insert in your manuscript. Your dissertation will be published by ProQuest UMI which requires clear, high-contrast characters and images. As a guide to the quality that will be obtained, you can photocopy a sample page at 75% reduction to evaluate the readability and clarity of the print.


The School and ProQuest UMI allow students to use typefaces that are between 10 and 12 points; however, because 10 point can appear too small in most typefaces, 12 point is generally preferred. A smaller or condensed typeface can be used for tables that otherwise might not fit across a page within the correct margins, however, mixing typefaces is otherwise not recommended.

Underlining or italics may be used for statistical symbols, book titles, or definitions (but use either one or the other consistently throughout your manuscript, including tables). Headings should be underlined when appropriate and not italicized. Bold type should not be used in the manuscript.

Do not justify the right margin of your text; keep it left aligned like the text shown here.


To assure proper binding and for ease of reading, the following margins are required:

  • Left margin: one and one-half inches for all pages.
  • Right margin: one and one-half inches for all pages, with no intrusion of letters or anything else into the right margin.
  • Top margin: one-and-one-quarter inches for all pages except the first page of the Acknowledgments, Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of Figures, each chapter, Bibliography, and Appendices which should begin two inches from the top edge of the page.
  • Bottom margin: one-and-one-quarter inches for all pages.
  • Page numbers for all pages preceding page 1 of Chapter I (lower case roman numerals for Acknowledgments, Table of Contents, etc.) should be placed three-quarters of an inch from the bottom of the page, centered between the left and right margins.
  • Page numbers from page 1 of Chapter I through the last page of the last appendix should be placed three-quarters of an inch from the top or bottom, centered between the left and right margins.

See the next section for sample dissertation pages.

White Space

Avoid leaving more than two inches of white space without type. This applies to tables and figures as well as to text. A table or figure should be inserted in the text as soon after it is first referred to where it will fit in its entirety on one page. Leave three blank lines between a table and text or text and a table; the same for figures. Continue your text if you can fit at least four lines after it. You may have more than one table on a page and you may have a table, discussion, and a table. The same procedure applies to all illustrative material.

Line Spacing

Double space the entire manuscript with these exceptions (which should be single-spaced):

  • chapter titles, appendix titles, headings, and subheadings of more than one line;
  • block quotations;
  • column headings and lines that run on in tables;
  • bibliography or references entries -- double space between entries;
  • footnotes;
  • figure captions;
  • explanatory material for figures, tables, and illustrations; and
  • appendices -- the spacing will vary depending on the source and content.

APA style requires writers to double space all typed material, including the exceptions noted above. If you are using APA, the above rules supersede APA rules in most cases. You have the option, however, of double spacing your references and block quotations; MLA style users also have this option.


The title page is counted as page one and the copyright page as page two, but numbers do not appear on them. Lower case roman numerals (iii, iv, v, vi, etc.) are used for all subsequent pages up to the first page of the text (page 1 of Chapter I) and should be placed three quarters of an inch from the bottom edge of the paper, centered between the margins.

Beginning with page 1 of Chapter I, Arabic numbers are used and are continuous through the last page including all appendices. Page numbers for all pages in the chapter, including the first page of each chapter or major section, should be placed three quarters of an inch from the top or bottom edge of the paper centered between the margins.

Order of Sections

The material of your manuscript should be ordered as follows:

  1. title page;
  2. copyright page;
  3. acknowledgments;
  4. table of contents;
  5. list(s) of tables, figures, charts, graphs, musical examples, illustrations, etc., if used;
  6. preface or forward, if used;
  7. the text;
  8. bibliography;
  9. and appendices (if any).

Title Page of Dissertation

Please see the sample title page below. You are required to follow that format exactly.

Copyright Page

You will have the option to have your dissertation copyrighted when you submit it to Proquest/UMI for publication. You should include a copyright page with your name and copyright date in the middle of the page, centered left to right (between the margins) and top to bottom. Please note that the copyright date is the year of your degree conferral. Follow this format:


The copyright page is page ii of the pages preceding the text (the title page is understood to be page i), but no number should appear on either the title page or the copyright page.

Table of Contents and Lists of Tables and Figures

Because a dissertation does not have an index, your Table of Contents should be as comprehensive as possible. Include all headings and subheadings, exactly as they appear in the text, up to and including Level 2. Including lower level headings is optional. (See sample Table of Contents in the next section.) Note that the indentation of a heading used in the Table of Contents corresponds to the level of the heading. The following illustrates this:

You should supply the reader with lists of tables, figures, and any other illustrative material used in your dissertation. See the sample lists in the next section. Lists of musical examples or reproductions of art, or information about films, follow the same form as that used for lists of tables and figures.

Chapter Titles and Headings

Chapter headings and titles appear as follows, beginning two inches from the top of the page:


Headings within the chapter should indicate the weight you assign to particular ideas by the form of headings suggested in the style manual you have selected or the form suggested below.

Leave three blank lines (i.e., begin typing after two double spaces) before each heading and after each major section and chapter title. If one heading immediately follows another, leave only one blank line (a double space) between the two. Leave one blank line (a double space) after each heading. Capitalize the first letter of each word of headings except for articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.

The following is one way in which to order headings and to type them. Students following APA style may use the format in the APA Style Guide, however, the format below is preferred for NYU Steinhardt dissertations.


See the sample page 1 in the next section for an example of heading placement.

Be sure that no heading appears at the bottom of a page without at least two lines of text beneath it. The Table of Contents will contain all Level 1 and Level 2 headings exactly as they appear in the text. It is not necessary to include Level 3 or lower-level headings in the Table of Contents, but you may if it provides the reader with more useful information.

Numbering Conventions

Chapter numbers are upper case roman numerals (with no period), e.g., CHAPTER IV, to differentiate them from any other numbers in the text. All other items requiring numbers should have Arabic numbers. Appendices, should be designated by capital letters, e.g., APPENDIX A, APPENDIX B, etc.

Use numbers or letters for other items only when necessary. Use 1) in the text and 1. in a set-off list; a) in the text and a. in a set-off list -- not (1) or 1). or a.), etc. If items in a numbered list run onto two or more lines, you may let the additional lines begin at the margin or indent the entire paragraph to the right of the numbers.

Numbers beginning a sentence, as well as numbers below 10 (or, if you prefer, 12) should be spelled out when they appear within the text.

Reduction of Tables and Other Materials

If a table, appendix, illustration, or graph is too wide or long, or both, to fit within the specified margins, have it reduced, or if textual material, type it using a smaller font. Whenever possible, avoid inserting tables which must be read by turning the book sideways. If such a table is necessary, be sure to insert it with the heading to the spine or binding. You may also use a condensed typeface.

Bibliographic Entries

For style guides other than APA, if you have more than one work by the same author, do not repeat his or her name over and over. Use ten underscore characters, ending with a period if the author is exactly the same as the previous one, or with a comma if the author is the first of a series of new authors, as shown below. Single space the entry; double space between entries. Indent the second and subsequent lines one-half inch.


Note that authors with two initials have a space after the period between each initial, e.g., Smith, A. B., & Jones, M. J. Do not allow initials to break between lines; keep them together on one line or the other.

Regardless of the style guide you use, avoid having one or two lines of an entry on one page and the rest of the citation on the next page. The entry should be cited in its entirety on one page or the other.

Citations in Text

The way you cite an author in your manuscript is based on the context. If you are attributing an idea that you paraphrased to someone, use the name and date (according to APA style) such as (Jones, 2002), or as shown in the first sentence below. If you are

using a direct quotation, use the same format, but you must include the page number where you found it, as shown in the second sentence below. Also, specific information or ideas need a page number even if paraphrased. For example, the following brief passage refers to the same publication by a hypothetical author:


Review the whole manuscript to be sure that every work referred to in the manuscript is cited in the text (or footnotes) and included in the bibliography.

Block (Indented) Quotations

Four or more lines of a quotation should be set off from the main text with a double space, typed single spaced with no quotation marks, and the entire block indented one-half inch. Quotations within these block (or indented) quotations may use double quotations. The first line of the quotation is not indented; however, the first lines of new paragraphs within the quotation should begin with an additional indent of one-half inch. Students using APA or MLA style may double space block quotations.


Each appendix should have the proper designation at the top of the first page. A title page does not need to be inserted before each one. Use the following format, centered between the left and right margins, beginning two inches from the top of the page:



If you have material that, because of its format, needs to have a title page (because the title doesn't fit on the same page as the material), you need to consistently use title pages for all appendices. Avoid it if you can. Again, all material in an appendix must fit within the overall page margins.

Letters of Permission

It is necessary to obtain letters of permission for the reproduction of any copyrighted material which exceeds the Federal law pertaining to "Fair Use." Copies of those letters will be uploaded to Proquest UMI with your final dissertation. Copies of the letters do not need to be included in the dissertation.

The Abstract

The abstract is a brief summary of the contents of the dissertation. Begin typing the abstract two inches from the top of a blank page with no heading. The abstract should be typed double-spaced with the same typeface and margins as the dissertation. The length of the abstract should be limited to 350 words.

The abstract title page is identical to the dissertation title page with one exception: the abstract title page has the words An Abstract of directly above the title (see Sample Title Page in the next section). Each abstract is stapled in the upper left corner and kept separate from the dissertation. The chairperson of the dissertation committee should sign one copy of the abstract title page.

Sample Pages

The following section includes sample dissertation pages which should be followed carefully. Refer to the preceding section for more detailed information on format requirements. Students should follow the instructions on these sample pages rather than using a dissertation from the library (or elsewhere) as a guide. Format requirements differ from year to year and from school to school.

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