Quote Like a Pro
As a trained journalist, I know more than most people about using quotes within copy. I’ve covered this topic before, but since I often see pretty basic errors, here we go again:
1. A quote should build on the copy that precedes it, not repeat it.
Wrong: The Sharks are the top team in the NHL. “Right now, the Sharks are the top NHL team,” Gabe said.
Right: The Sharks are the top team in the NHL. “With less than three months left in the season, the Sharks are poised to repeat as the President’s Trophy winner,” Jenna said. “Of course, the trophy they really want is the Stanley Cup.”
2. When your quote includes several sentences, it will flow better if you put the attribution after the first sentence, as I did in the “Right” example above.
3. Keep commas and periods inside the quote marks.
4. Always use double quotes when you’re quoting someone or when word use warrants it, as in the last line of #2.
5. Never change the meaning of a quote, but it is acceptable to “clean it up” if communicating what people said word for word reflects poorly on their grammar or is unclear.
Focus on Getting Personal
Here’s some more “Smart Writing.” Take a look at these two sentences:
- How we take care of our bodies affects our businesses.
- How you take care of your body affects your business.
Neither is wrong, but the second sentence is going to resonate more with readers because it’s written as if you’re speaking to each one. Remember that while you’re writing to an entire audience, that audience is made up of individuals who’ll likely be having a one-on-one experience with your material.
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