The Write Stuff
Summer 2008 Volume 4 Issue 3
You Can Quote Me On That!
Using quotes within articles adds a great human element and a way to showcase sources’ expertise and personality. To use this writing element to its best advantage, you need to know a few things that are part of any basic journalism curriculum.
Most importantly, your quote should complement the information that directly precedes it, not parrot it. Here’s some sample copy:
With more than half the season gone, the Cubs are in first place in their division, with the best record in the National League. They’re having a great season.
This quote wouldn’t add anything to what’s already been said:
“The Cubs are really having a great season,” said Gabe DeGrandis, a 7-year-old fan.
This quote builds on what was said in the copy:
“The Cubs were the pre-season favorite to win the NL Central, but I think most of us are surprised at how consistently well they’ve played,” said Gabe DeGrandis, a 7-year-old fan.
Now, does that sound like something a second-grader would say? My nephew Gabe is rather smart…but that brings me to my next point about quotes: Unless you’re taking a deposition, it’s not necessary to quote people verbatim.
Don’t freak out; I’m not suggesting you put words in peoples’ mouths. Rather, it’s permissible to massage what people say into written copy that flows well. Most people aren’t thinking about how their words will read when they speak.
What else should you know about quotes? Here are a few tips:
- Use said. “I don’t like the Cubs. The White Sox are my team,” said Jenna DeGrandis, who will turn 10 next week.
- Separate longer quotes by attributing them in the middle. “Despite having a lot of injuries and a really bad travel schedule, the Cubs have persevered,” Gabe said. “I can’t wait to see the July 11 game with Aunt Adrienne.”
- Use full attribution on first reference only. Once you’ve provided the source’s full name, title and company, use only first or last names (depending on company style) on subsequent references.
Can my Cubs do it? I sure hope they break their 100-year drought this fall. Hope springs eternal!
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