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How to Write a Quote: Quick Tutorial and Writing Tips

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Content creators need to know how to write a quote – a statement from another person or source.

How to write a quote with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #WritingTips #WritingTutorial #FreelanceWriting

Quotations can be used to support an argument, make a case, or as a testimonial. You’re not putting words in that person’s mouth. Rather, you’re citing what that person has already said. 

But what to quote? How much should you quote? How should you structure the quote?

This is a particularly strategic skill for nonfiction writers and bloggers. A direct quote from an authoritative source on your topic reinforces your point. When you know how to write a quote, you’re able to give credit where credit is due.

Then there’s conversational writing, which leans heavily on dialogue. Conversational writing is not for fiction only. These days readers expect a conversational style when they read an email, web page, text, blog, social media post and even ads, direct mail, and consumer newsletters.  

Which means you need to know how to write a quote.

How to Choose a Quote: The Content 

Carefully-chosen quotes can underscore your point by providing a memorable voice.

  • Choose an authoritative source. Is the speaker respected and credentialed? 
  • Choose the shortest quote possible. Your purpose is to corroborate your point with someone else’s words. But it’s still your point.
  • Choose a memorable quote. Readers will remember a pithy statement, vivid example, or colorful turn of phrase that advances the story. 

How to Write a Quote: The Mechanics

Use this quick tutorial to insert a quote into your content.

1. Provide Context

Show when or where the speaker made his statement. 

The three bears marched upstairs and barged into the bedroom. “Someone has been sleeping in my bed,” growled Papa Bear. By now, he was tired and hungry.

2. Give Attribution

Incorporate the quote into the text and include a comma before attribution. 

“Someone has been sleeping in my bed,” murmured Mama Bear, as quoted in "The Authoritative Goldilocks and the Three Bears."

3. Break Up Longer Quotes

You can also use attribution to break up the quote.

“Someone has been sleeping in my bed,” cried Baby Bear. “And there she is!”

4. Indent a block quote

Place quotes of four lines or more in a free-standing block of text and omit quotation marks.

Goldilocks explained:

I was so tired after my long walk in the woods and came upon your cottage. The entrance is so charming and inviting, so I came inside. Then I came inside and saw the delicious porridge. I was so hungry I simply couldn’t resist. As I walked through, I saw the charming furniture in your living area and sat down for a few minutes. But then, I grew sleepy. I thought if I could just find a bed, I could rest for a short while before returning home.

5. Use an Ellipsis for Omitted Words

If you leave out words from a quote, replace them with an ellipsis (a set of three or more dots.)

“Someone has been … in my bed,” cried Baby Bear. “And there she is!”

Extra Writing Tips for Quotes

  • Place periods or commas inside the closing quotation mark.

           “The bears woke me up,” cried Goldilocks.

  • Use single quotation marks to nest a comment inside a first one.

            “The Papa Bear growled, ‘Someone has been sleeping in my bed’       

             and he woke me up,” cried Goldilocks.

More Tips for Writing Quotes, Testimonials, and Attribution

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