Plain TeX has a method of creating hanging punctuation, where a punctuation mark/character immediately to the left of some text sits effectively in the margin.

I want to do this with quotes, so that the body of the quotation text is indented on both sides, but the opening quotation marks are to the left of the opening character. This is the effect I want:

``Lord Bacon, in 'the true marshalling of the sovereign degrees of
  honor,' assigns the first place to 'the Conditores Imperiorum, 
  founders of States and Commonwealths'; and, truly, to build up from 
  the discordant elements of our nature the passions, the interests, 
  and the opinions of the individual man, the rivalries of family, clan, 
  and tribe, the influences of climate and geographical position, the
  accidents of peace and war accumulated for ages,– to build up from these 
  oftentimes warring elements a well-compacted, prosperous, and powerful 
  State, if it were to be accomplished by one effort or in one generation
  would require a more than mortal skill.''

I can do this with quote:

{}\hspace{-5pt}{``}Lord Bacon, in 'the true marshalling

would require a more than mortal skill.''   

but that seems clumsy. Is there a better method?


Your method, {}\hspace{-5pt}{``}, is clumsy insofar as you have to guess at the actual width of the leading quotes ``. A way to avoid that calculation is with the macro \makebox[0pt][r]{``} which places a right-aligned box of zero-width, effectively lapping the text to the left. As you see, however, it doesn't save much typing.

So one way to deal with that is to put that macro into its own \def, call it \andIquote, so that, as in the first example of my MWE, one merely calls on \andIquote as the first item in the quote.

Perhaps a better way, as I do for the second quote, is to create a new environment, I call it quoted, which automatically places quotes at the beginning and end of the environment.


\andIquote Lord Bacon, in 'the true marshalling

would require a more than mortal skill.''   

Lord Bacon, in 'the true marshalling

would require a more than mortal skill.   

enter image description here

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  • 1
    \makebox[0pt][r]{``} - why didn't I think of that! Thank you all for your kind advice. – Alasdair Mar 18 '14 at 23:26

if i remember correctly, this is one of the rationales for knuth's definition of \llap; this has been carried over into latex. it really needs to be used only in horizontal mode, so you should ensure that by using \noindent at the beginning of your quoted paragraph:

\noindent\llap{``}Lord Bacon, in 'the true marshalling ...
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  • 2
    When formulating my answer, I forgot about the \noindent, and so couldn't make it work with \llap. Thanks for the reminder: +1. – Steven B. Segletes Mar 18 '14 at 13:56

In addition to Steven Segletes' answer, you might (in terms of interface) consider using the csquotes package, which provides various hooks to produce an automatic environment for displaying quotes. The potential benefit of this is that it avoids the need to add \andIquote at the start of any quotation: assuming you want all quotations styled this way, it does it for you automatically.

The "user" syntax is


Using the "hooks" provided by \mkbegispquote and \mkenddispquote you can arrange that opening and closing quote marks are placed automatically around each displayed quotation. (I've also shown an alternative to Steven's method of putting the quote marks in the margin, though his would work equally well.)


% #1 is closing punctuation, #2 is citation. 
% We don't use them in this instance, but they
% need to be "catered for"
% #1 is closing punctuation, #2 is citation.
% again, we provide for them if needed

Here is a displayed quotation, which should be long enough to go over a number
of lines. In this case I have not specified any closing punctuation or citation
for the quotation.

Here is another displayed quotation. In this case there is some specified
punctuation which goes at the end of the quotation before the closing mark.

Here is yet another displayed quotation, this time with a citation to be included
in the mix, which will be printed at the end of the quotation, after the quotes 
are closed.


Three example quotations

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  • Thanks. This is a way cleaner solution than all the other ones! :) – rugk Aug 28 at 21:06
  • …but this solution also has some problems with foreign languages and inline quotes. See tex.stackexchange.com/q/560488/98645 for an explanation and a proper solution. – rugk Aug 29 at 11:12

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