The Difference Between Blockquotes and Pull Quotes

Author: John Slott

Block Quote ExampleA blockquote. Notice the indent of the quoted paragraph and how the subtle difference in style makes it clear that the blockquote is part of the text. (source)

A blockquote is used in online writing to differentiate a section of quoted text from the text around it. When used correctly, it can enhance text content on the web, but too often blockquotes are applied incorrectly, perhaps in place of another familiar text treatment, the pull quote.

Blockquotes can easily be confused with the similarly named pull quote. Pull quotes are made up of text that is pulled from the text—that is, duplicated—and presented on the page as an attention-grabbing visual element. Pull quotes are commonly used in magazines and on news websites to hook a reader’s attention with a juicy quote from the story. Pull quotes involve a higher level of customization and attention to create and then apply.

Generally, text rendered as a blockquote will be styled with an indent to the left and right margins. Sometimes blockquote text is italic, bold, or even colored differently. The exact style of the blockquote will vary from site to site, but the purpose remains the same: Set a quoted passage apart from the text around it.

Pull Quote ExampleMarked up example of a pull quote. Notice that the pull quote is styled dramatically and duplicates a phrase from within the text. (source)

If you are using Conductor you have the ability to apply the blockquote style by choosing a paragraph of text and selecting the “Block Quote” button. There is no pull quote button in the Conductor editor because that type of style needs to be added at the css level. (If you are comfortable adding a css class by hand, adding a pull quote style to your site is something we could consider.)

Something that recently came to the Web Team’s attention is that because of the way blockquotes have often been styled on University sites, people end up using them as if they were pull quotes. It is an easy mistake to make if the styles of a blockquotes are too extreme—too large or too bold, for example. So, we’re going to be doing a better job of making sure the blockquote style on University websites clearly and accurately communicate the nature of the passages it is applied to.

A blockquote may be a sentence, a paragraph, or many paragraphs, but it is always considered part of the text—not a duplicated phrase or a showcase for a flashy quotation.

If you have any questions or concerns about the blockquote style on your website, email us.