Basic Book Design/Quotations and Extracts

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Consider rewriting long quotations in your own words. Your writing is likely easier to read, and takes up less space. Plus you’ll have no worries about copyrights or permissions.

But sometimes another author writes something better than you can write.

I felt like a punk who’d gone out for a switchblade and come back with a tactical nuke.
“Shit,” I said, “screwed again. What good’s a tactical nuke in a streetfight?”
— William Gibson, Burning Chrome

Set apart long quotations with a different font family, font size, margins, and leading.

If you’re using a serif font (e.g., Times Roman) for your text, the most different font would be sans-serif (e.g., Helvetica). But sans-serif fonts are difficult to read. Instead, use a readable serif font, distinct from your text font. I like Rockwell (used in the above William Gibson quotation). In contrast, Palatino (below) doesn’t look different enough from Times Roman):

I felt like a punk who’d gone out for a switchblade and come back with a tactical nuke.
“Shit,” I said, “screwed again. What good’s a tactical nuke in a streetfight?”
— William Gibson, Burning Chrome

OK, to you it looks different, and Palatino is a beautiful font. But some idiot reader won’t notice that you’ve changed fonts, margins, and leading, and think that you wrote the quotation. Don’t be subtle. Make things very clear to your readers.

Use a font size one point smaller than the text. Use single-spaced leading. Move the margins in one-quarter or one-half inch on both sides.

Add space above and below the quote. Don’t add space between a new section heading and the quotation (your section heading should already have space above and below). Don’t add space if the quote is at the top or bottom of a page.

Quotations have one problem I don’t know how to solve. If you change the leading, the lines on the verso and recto pages (left-hand and right-hand pages) won’t align.

A page break should never break a quotation (or an extract) with one line above the page break.

Extracts[edit]

An example is called an extract.

This is an example of an extract.

Again, make your extracts look distinctive from your text. If your book has both quotations and extracts, use distinctive fonts, e.g., Rockwell for quotations and Helvetica for extracts.

Indentation after Quotations and Extracts[edit]

Some typesetters don’t indent the first paragraph after a quotation or extract. This is a good idea if the left margin of your quotation/extract is close to your paragraph indentation. E.g., you set your paragraph indentation at 0.2”, and your extract left margin at 0.25”. This book has those settings. Because the extracts and paragraphs nearly line up, you might think that the paragraph after an extract was part of the extract. If you make your quotations/extracts and text look distinct, indent the paragraph after a quotation or extract. If your text, quotations, and extracts look similar, don’t indent the first paragraph after a quotation or extract.