“I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed
with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.” ― Marlene Dietrich

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Issue 19   September, 2014

Sue HornerDear Sue2,
Using quotes in your writing will “put the rosiness into the cheeks of the palest stories,” says The Canadian Press Stylebook. This issue of Wordnerdery has a few suggestions about getting and using quotable quotes.
Sue's signature

And you can quote me...

In newsletter articles, news releases and other writing, adding quotes adds life and interest. Here are tips for getting and using quotes in your content:
  • Find the expert: If you’re describing or explaining something, find the person who is qualified to talk about it. Naming a person is better than the royal “we” or “the company.”
  • Say ‘no’ to jargon: As Canadian Press says, “Quotes containing bafflegab are [or should be!] routinely paraphrased in plain English.”
  • Ask questions. Get to the heart of a subject with questions like how and why and who and how much. Get details that convey meaning.
  • Who’s talking? Identify the speaker after the first line of the quote. Don’t make your reader wonder, “Who is speaking?” for a couple of sentences.
  • Break it up: Alternate quotes with a paragraph or two of explanation, detail, statistics and so on.
  • Said? Laughed? Don’t feel you have to switch up the word “said” with laughed, stated, questioned, etc.; although I think “explained” works. “Editors of mainstream publications demand you use only the simple word said (or says),” according to journalist Simon Townsend.
  • Word for word: It’s okay to tinker (slightly!) with wording, for instance, to correct slips of grammar. The Canadian Press admits it takes “a somewhat stern approach to any tampering with just what was said,” but a company newsletter has more flexibility, especially if the person quoted has a chance to review it.
  • Paraphrase. Save actual quotes for the best and most interesting comments, ones that express emotion or use description. For detail that doesn’t add colour, paraphrase.
  • Don’t make up quotes. Readers can usually tell when no human actually uttered a pretend quote.
Have you run across any examples of great quotes? Do you have a go-to question that helps you pull out great quotes? Hit "reply" and tell me about it! And let me know if you need help getting great quotes for your communications material.

Images: Microphone by Master Isolated Images and Sue by Chris Salvo,

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