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History Research Seminar: Best Practices for Students

This guide support students enrolled in the Research Seminars in the History Department.

Block Quotes

The information contained on this page addresses Block Quoting specifically:

From the perspective of writing research papers in history, block quotes are often misunderstood and then misapplied. Advice such as "use them sparingly" can create the impression that your specific need to use a block quote is allowable. Before deciding to use a block quote, make sure you understand the accepted usage.

Appropriate use of Block Quotes

For context, block quotes are used in the study of literature or drama. In these cases there is no substitute for the exact wording. For history research seminar papers, the following are good rules of thumb:


  • Primary sources present the best case for use of block quotes, for example, a correspondence between two people or the text on a propoganda poster. There is no substitute for this text.


  • Secondary sources - texts from these sources should not be block quoted. Information drawn from these sources, such as background information or overviews, arguments, conclusions, etc., can be paraphrased or selected keyphrases can be used. 

Some alternatives to Block Quoting

  • Learn the ways to Integrate Citation more effectively with this visual guide--the examples are in APA style, you will need to transpose this to Chicago style for your history paper.


  • Let's take a moment to acknowledge that paraphrasing is difficult. Insecurities about writing can make us feel like we couldn't possibly say it better than the original author. Paraphrase: Write It in Your Own Words walks you through a process for paraphrasing.


  • This worksheet provides a template for deconstructing your secondary in preparation for citing and paraphrasing them.


  • As a last resort, footnote it! When using a secondary source and you can't find a way to paraphrase it, consider footnoting or endnoting it.