Sunday, January 11, 2009

Blogger Formatting Issue: Blockquote vs. Italics

A reader comments:

Here is one comment on how you might improve your blog. I find many times that I am not sure when you are quoting others and when it is your own commentary. You use italics a lot, but I am not sure if you are doing this to indicate a quote, or if you use italics in general. I bet that other readers notice the same thing.

Response: When I started Carpe Diem in the fall of 2006, I tried very hard to use the "blockquote" feature of Blogger to offset/indent direct quotes and clearly separate and distinguish my commentary from the quotes of others. I finally gave up because it was too difficult and time-consuming to get the spacing and layout of the post to look right. As the next best alternative, I started using italics for direct quotes, and non-italics for my own comments.

I'll experiment again with the blockquote feature of Blogger for quotes. I notice that Greg Mankiw seems to be able to effectively use the blockquote feature on his blog, so I'll try it again. One complication might be that I use a non-default font style (Georgia) and color (brown), which complicates the HTML formatting of the blog posts before adding the blockquote formatting. And I'm using the original version of Blogger, not the newer updated version, so I might have some issues there.

For now, just assume that any italic text is a direct quote and any non-italic text is my own commentary, and I'll start experimenting with the blockquote feature again (see above, the comment is in blockquote format).

By the way, any comments, suggestions, and tips/ideas for posts are always very much appreciated.


At 1/11/2009 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the CSS I use:

blockquote {
background-color: #F5F5F7;
// font-family: "Trebuchet MS";
font-size: 100%;
// width: 90%;
// margin: .5 em auto;
// padding: 10px 5px 10px 25px;
padding: 0 0 0 .5em;

I think I copied this from an old Atlantic blog and just tweaked it, commenting out with // the lines I didn't want. But as you can see you can adjust the padding and margins in addition to colors, font specs, and width of screen...

On the new Blogger the code goes in Customize -> Layout -> Edit HTML -> Edit Template. Put it beneath the existing blockquote{ } block if your template already has one, so it overrides it.

But since many of your posts are just long excerpts of articles, I've grown to like the distinctive italic red text. I'd keep it.

At 1/11/2009 4:47 PM, Blogger QT said...


Georgia's tails & curliqueues make it a little more difficult to read especially in italics. You might consider a font like Arial or helvetica which are easier to read.

Just a suggestion. Italics for quotes seemed clear; one could also use a different colour or other visual means. Chances are that there are as many opinions as posters.

The format that works for you is probably the best.

At 1/11/2009 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the issue is with paragragh designations. You should be able to get the spacing correct, like in this post, by making sure you manually add the 'p' open and close tags.

So, it might look like this (using parenthesis instead of brackets):

(p)Here is some text(/p)
(blockquote)(i)quoted text(/i)(/blockquote)
(p)and now some more text(/p)

At 1/11/2009 11:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish you wouldn't use brown. It's much harder to read and hurts my eyes.

At 1/12/2009 1:28 AM, Blogger Klockarman said...


I also have a Blogger blog (, and also had a problem with the block quote feature - and I also got around it by just italicizing quoted text just like you.

As I'm just blogger (and not a techie), my eyes glaze over with just about anything to do with HTML code (except copying and embedding code for a You Tube video - which is easy for anyone). I just stick to Blogger's Compose mode (which is a basic word processor) and do the best I can with that. Unfortunately, after I've copied and pasted some text I want to quote and select it, then click the Quote Block button everything looks fine in draft, but once I hit the button to publish the post and look at it on the blog it's all messed up, i.e. the quote block gets indented correctly, but there are line breaks in undesired places so that some lines only have a couple of words on them. It ends up looking terrible, so I go with italics just like Mark.

The HTML suggestions aren't much help to this amateur. I'm just looking for a solution to make Blogger's Compose Mode work like it seems like it should. So, if any CD readers can help me (and Mark) solve this problem without getting into some heavy HTML, I'd much appreciateit, and I'm sure Mark would too.

At 1/12/2009 11:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep the serif font but increase the size and letter spacing. Readability will improve greatly.

At 1/12/2009 11:09 AM, Blogger John B. Chilton said...

Unless I'm cutting and pasting from a pdf I rarely have problems with the outcome of using blockquote. The reason is that from trial and error I've discovered the problem doesn't arise if you apply blockquote while in the "edit html" window rather than the "compose" window.

At 1/13/2009 5:47 PM, Blogger Klockarman said...


I tried John B. Chilton's advice ("apply blockquote while in the "edit html" window rather than the "compose" window"), and voila! It worked!

I'm now going to go back to using block quotes instead of italics as you were doing too.


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