Non-Fiction - Styling a Blockquote that contains a Blockquote

I’m working on a family history book and have a question for those that write non-fiction/academic works (while I’m probably not going to formally publish my book, I want to try to follow accepted standards so the book can be useful in the future for family research). About 100 years ago a distant cousin published a book on one branch of my family, and I will be quoting that book on occasion in my book. Some of the quotes I will be using contain quotes of other material. How do I set up styles to deal with that?

As an example - I’ll quote from Block quotation - Wikipedia (internal links and footnotes omitted):

In typesetting, block quotations can be distinguished from the surrounding text by variation in typeface (often italic vs. roman), type size, or by indentation. Often combinations of these methods are used, but are not necessary. Block quotations are also visually distinguished from preceding and following main text blocks by a white line or half-line space. For example:

Fielding hides his own opinions on the matter deep in Tom Jones:

Now, in reality, the world have paid too great a compliment to critics, and have imagined them men of much greater profundity than they really are. From this complaisance the critics have been emboldened to assume a dictatorial power, and have so far succeeded that they are now become the masters, and have the assurance to give laws to those authors from whose predecessors they originally received them.

The example has three levels of quoting (which I don’t think I’m going to need). Markdown deals with it nicely, but I’m (intentionally) not working directly in markdown, I’m starting with the “General Non-Fiction (LaTeX)” and working in LaTeX so I can use the genealogytree package.

Should I just clone the current Block Quote style to “Inner Block Quote” (to as many levels as needed)? I assume that LaTeX handles nested \begin{quote} ... \end{quote} sections correctly (I have not tested it yet, but I will shortly). Edited to add that it does nothing special with nested \begin{quote} ... \end{quote} sections. Time to play with Pandoc and see how it converts nested markdown block quotes to LaTeX.

Bonus questions (if you’ve gotten this far):

If the original text being quoted contains footnotes and/or citations in the original text, how are they normally handled?

If the original text doesn’t “properly” cite it’s quote, but I am able to find a citation for it, how is that normally handled?

Is there a “Academic Writing for Dummies Non-Academic’s” that I should be reading so I don’t have to ask some of these questions here? :grinning:

Thanks for any assistance.

Scrivener itself does not do nested styles, so if you’re going to use its capabilities as a constraint, it might get a little messy. I can’t think of a good clean solution for that off of the top of my head. Since style prefixes and suffixes trigger at the boundaries of the style, you’d need “end cap” styles to declare the top and bottom of the outer quote, separately, so that the inner quote isn’t sandwiched in between two isolated level 1 quotes, if that makes sense. Another way of thinking of it is that you’d have one style that prints \begin{quote} and that’s it, no suffix. You’d then have a second style that prints \end{quote} as a suffix, and no prefix. The styles would then only be applied to the paragraphs the start and end the quotes, with any paragraphs in the middle being left alone. You can thus start nested quotes and end them by using these styles in sequence rather than in pairs.

Honestly, that’s just the kind of stuff I avoid using word processor type tools for in the first place though! To do effective formatting I find I often have to abuse styles beyond their semantic purposes, and I just find myself thinking of more elegant systems like LaTeX, and wonder why I’m not just using that. But that’s just my opinion.

At a certain point, I ask myself whether it’s worth butting heads with a system that doesn’t express the magnitude of what the end goal is capable of, and if it isn’t worth it, I use syntax—to my mind, that’s one of the big advantages of coupling a much more powerful typesetting engine to Scrivener in the first place. Let it help you do the easy stuff with less typing and syntax in your face, but where it stumbles and can’t do the job: pick right up with all you have under your fingertips.

Another example, from Markdown, is its super expressive listing system. You can do things with both LaTeX and Markdown lists that rich text cannot come close to. So if one is going to apply the constraint of only using Scrivener’s bullets to generate Markdown lists then they will be stuck with the limitations of RTF, not what they can really do if they just use the syntax directly in the editor for more complex lists.

So that’s how I’d handle this particular problem. Maybe use a quote style for all the basic stuff that can be handled with a clean single start and stop, but if you need something more complicated, just type it in. One of the nice things about this template is that all of the “automation” that is being done with section layouts and styles does not compete with typed in text. You can freely use raw LaTeX wherever you want, wherever it is necessary to go beyond the engine.

As to the rest, I don’t have the knowledge to answer those questions, hopefully someone else has some insight.

  1. It is not necessary to replicated footnote material when you quote text. (One of the reasons to properly cite your sources is so that the interested reader can find their way to the original text if they want a deeper dive.) A simple citation which appears in the original and which you want to include could be moved up into the quotation itself parenthetically, if it did not disrupt the flow of reading too much.

  2. If you insert material into quoted text, it is traditional to enclose your material in square brackets. This might include bracketing the footnote text of a footnote you added in order to add a citation.

  3. Something you should be mindful of is that when you make an extended quotation, it is not necessary to replicated the typographic layout of the source material. In your example, the embedded quote could be put in quotation marks and backed up to right after the colon. That quickly changes a double nesting to a single one — with no loss of “level” distinctions.

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Thank you. I should have realized/remembered that Scrivener does not do nested styles (and I would have figured it out quickly if I had bothered to check the .tex file instead of just looking at the resulting PDF).

While the “end cap” styles would work, I agree that using them would be abusing styles. I already have raw LaTeX in my documents for the genealogy trees, so adding raw LaTeX for the nested block quotes isn’t an issue - I’ll just need to figure out a way to style it so I know why I’m using raw LaTeX (I’m guessing a character style would work for that so I don’t end the paragraph style too soon, I’ll add that to my list of things to test).

Thanks for this - it helps a lot. Knowing I don’t have to approximate the typographic layout for the embedded quotes makes things a lot easier.

A couple of followup questions if you don’t mind:

If I do replicate footnote material in the quote (either because it is relevant to my discussion or because the source material is extremely hard to find) do I treat the footnote the same as my footnotes (maybe with a Block Quote style if LaTeX will let me do that) or do I include the footnote in the block quote?

I had assumed that the citation for the block quote would be in either the paragraph introducing the quote (preferred) or in the first paragraph following the quote. Is it more common to add the citation into the quote itself enclosed in square brackets?

Yeah that’s something I do a bit of as well—purely aesthetic styles are more of a possibility when your output is plain-text. You just don’t do anything with it in the compile settings. If it doesn’t insert text it’s tossed out. I say purely, but really they do have a use since you can search for styles. While I type all of my lists out with syntax, having them styled so they look nice also means I can find them.

You can use paragraph styles for that as well, it would just need to be something other than “Quote” to disambiguate. Maybe something more generic, like “Block Indent”. But using another text colour or something would be just as well.

  1. One option is to use two strains of footnotes in your text. Numbered footnotes for your own notes, and per-page “*”-style footnotes for citations that are coming out of quoted material. You might want to further distinguish those note by placing in italics. (The problem to avoid is this: when YOU cite something you indicate that is material you yourself have consulted; you want to avoid this implication if you are just replicating citations.)

  2. Another (simpler) option is to build the footnote into the body of the extended quote itself — as if it was its own little document. Place a asterisk where the embedded footnote occured and then at the end of the embedded quote add in duly a asterisked parenthetical containing the footnote text, as in: (* Farlies, R.I., /Disquisition on Replication/.)


I wonder though if you might just be overusing extended direct quotation. That you find yourself faced with a lot of complicated quoted passages with embeddings and footnotes in them (which it sounds like you are), is probably a symptom.

Direct quotation is indicated when there is something important about how someone said something, otherwise one should simply paraphrase and cite. It may be tempting to direct quote as a way of “authenticating” your own claims that someone said something — but that is the job of citation. If I cite someone as saying that the economy can only be saved by a return to the gold standard, I authenticate that claim simply by citing my source. It lends no further credence to my claim to directly quote the (uninteresting) exact words the guy said.