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On meta, I've found the disscussion {quotation} and {quote}, but it doesn't answer my question.

When should I use the environment quote? When quotation?

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The meta thread is about the tags with this names, used on this site, not the LaTeX environments. –  Martin Scharrer Oct 31 '11 at 12:48
@MartinScharrer: I just linked it, because it says there "hey are different, though closely related". –  lumbric Oct 31 '11 at 12:57
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3 Answers

up vote 57 down vote accepted

The worth reading LaTeX Wiki Book describes the differences as follows:

  • quote for a short quotation, or a series of small quotes, separated by blank lines.
  • quotation for use with longer quotations, of more than one paragraph, because it indents the first line of each paragraph.

And in addition to the above:

  • verse is for quotations where line breaks are important, such as poetry. Once in, new stanzas are created with a blank line, and new lines within a stanza are indicated using the newline command, \\. If a line takes up more than one line on the page, then all subsequent lines are indented until explicitly separated with \\.
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Thanks a lot! If it's a longer quotation with only one paragraph you would recommend quote, though? (since there would be only the first line indented) –  lumbric Oct 31 '11 at 12:18
Hm, would be a matter of personal taste, I guess. Since the whole quote block is indented anyway I, personally, would most likely use quote. –  Boffin Oct 31 '11 at 14:02
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The technical difference between both environments can be best seen from their definitions (done in the standard class files, e.g. article.cls lines 486-496):

               {\list{}{\listparindent 1.5em%
                        \itemindent    \listparindent
                        \rightmargin   \leftmargin
                        \parsep        \z@ \@plus\p@}%

As you can see, both use a list environment and set the right margin to be equal to the left margin, which produces the indentation on both sites (for a reason I don't fully understand myself).

In addition to that, quotation also sets

  • \listparindent to 1.5em ("extra indentation at beginning of every paragraph of a list except the one started by the \item command."),
  • \itemindent to \listparindent ("extra indentation added right BEFORE an item label.") and
  • \parsep to 0pt plus 1pt (separation between paragraphs).

(Descriptions taken from source2e)

This means that several indentions are done differently, which, AFAIK, seems to be important for longer quotations.

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Nice answer, it's always enlightening to see how things are defined. Perhaps you could add a sentence or two how and from where you retrieved these definitions, so that users can learn how to find out such things by themselves? –  doncherry Oct 31 '11 at 14:38
@doncherry: Good idea. I added this now. –  Martin Scharrer Oct 31 '11 at 14:49
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In my opinion, the side-by side existence of quotation and quote is a bad design decision of LaTeX's initial developer Leslie Lamport. I have written the quoting package that provides the environment of the same name, a consolidated environment for displayed text. With quoting, first-line indentation is activated by adding a blank line before the environment.

What's exactly bad about quotation and quote in their present form? Quoting from the quoting documentation:

  • The quotation environment isn't suited for documents which use vertical spacing instead of indentation to denote the start of new paragraphs. If one retroactively adopts such a layout, one should change the definition of \quotation and \endquotation to \quote resp. \endquote.

  • The side-by-side existence of two environments for displayed text narrows the utility of the csquotes package which provides higher-level wrapper environments, e.g. for quoting in a foreign language and specifying the source of citations. Currently, csquotes uses quote as a backend environment, but with LaTeX's default settings, this is not appropriate for multi-paragraph quotes.

Should you want "a series of small quotes" (the alternative, though rather infrequent use of quote), you may string together several instances of the quoting environment (depending on your indentation preferences, with or without blank lines between them).

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Reading your first two sentences immediately brought xkcd 927 to mind. –  WChargin Feb 9 at 18:23
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