Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Finally, I Get Smart . . .

No, not Agent 86.

I mean that I've finally taken the trouble to figure out some of those other menu items along the top of the composition 'box' on the page where I write these blog entries.

Now, I can actually block quote:

1. Always use a colon at the end of the signal phrase.
2. Quotation marks are not used to open/close block quotes.
3. Block quotes are indented 10 spaces from the left margin.
4. They run flush to the right margin.

I assume that these rules follow guidelines set by the Modern Language Association (MLA), but I obtained them through a website titled "English Composition and Literature," which looks very interesting . . . and maybe useful for my occasional composition course.

I have to admit that I also learned something new about block quotes: the 10-space indentation. As for points 1, 2, and 4, I knew these already (but would have written number 4 as "Block quotes run flush to the right margin").

There's also a point provided that ought to have been labeled number five:

Punctuation goes at the end of the quote’s final sentence, not after the page number.

I didn't know that. To clarify this point, here's the webpage's example, borrowing a passage from John Milton's Christian Doctrine:

It is better therefore to contemplate the Deity, and to conceive of him, not with reference to human passions, that is, after the manner of men, who are never weary of forming subtle imaginations respecting him, but after the manner of Scripture, that is, in the way wherein God has offered himself to our contemplation; . . . (CE xiv. 33)

Notice that the quote ends with a semicolon (courtesy of Milton) followed by an ellipse (the three dots). Then comes the bibliographical information (in parentheses) without any punctuation following. As I admitted, I didn't know that, so I suppose that I'd better read my copy of the MLA Handbook.

On the original webpage, some of those passages that I've block-quoted appeared in red. Let's see if I can reproduce the color:

Punctuation goes at the end of the quote’s final sentence, not after the page number.

Amazing. It really works. I actually do learn something new every day. If I'd only learned this new thing yesterday, I could have simplified my post on "Heroic Code or Humble Christ?" and thereby have made it more comprehensible.

Except that my post yesterday would then have read "Finally, I Get Smart . . ."

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