Using Quotations in Your Articles

“I have gathered a posy of other men’s flowers, and nothing but the thread that binds them is mine own.” — John Bartlett

Sometimes someone else just says it better.

Including quotations in your article can help lend a certain credibility or atmosphere to your writing; contributing further background to the topic you’re discussing. Although it’s okay to add them from time-to-time, exercise caution when using quoted material in your article writing and marketing. Keep in mind that you are the Expert Author – make sure your readers know it!

While a news article or academic writing will often contain multiple quotations, this practice doesn’t translate well into the article marketing world. You want to present yourself as an authority in your niche—someone your readers (and potential customers) will want to seek out. By overloading articles with quotes, you make readers wonder what makes your personal brand special and why they shouldn’t just go to the source instead.

Because there are some topics that could be better conveyed with the added emphasis of a quote or two, we allow them to be included in your articles … sparingly.

When Using Quoted Material in Your Articles:

  • Re-examine the quotes or sourced material in your article before submitting it. Is it necessary? Can you explain this information better with your own words?
     
  • Don’t include third-party testimonials about products or services in your article body. Promotional statements like these belong in your Resource Box or, better yet, on your landing page.
     
  • Is your article at least 400 words long without the quotation(s)? If not, you’ll want to flesh it out a bit more.
     
  • Always attribute the quoted material appropriately to the author (like the quote in the subheading above).
     
  • Include only one or two short quotes or excerpts in your article. More than that, and your article could be flagged for derivative or duplicate content.
     
  • Remember that you’re piggybacking on somebody else’s credibility, so be kind. The only exception is articles specifically written to be critical, such as reviews and critiques.
     
  • Quote only celebrities or other people of high notoriety. Quoting non-celebrities is a dangerous and slippery slope that can lead to time-consuming hassles, unsavory confrontations and even lawsuits.

For practice, why not go write an article based on a famous quote or an excerpt from a well-known document? If you don’t overdo it, this style can be refreshing and effective, plus it’s a great way to jumpstart your writing process when you’re feeling unmotivated.

Do you have any other tips for properly quoting sources in your writing? Share them in the comments below!

12 Comments »


1
notgonna getousted writes:

Not buying this for a second. I once used a quote of about 70 words. And EzineArticles rejected it as duplicate content.

Comment provided June 23, 2010 at 1:31 PM

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2
Vijay Agrawal writes:

Thanks very much for clarifying use of quotes in the articles. I have often thought of including some quotes or punch-lines but had not done that so far.

Can you tell me if there is a way to ensure the authenticity of the quotes? I have often found a particular quote on different sites with slightly different wordings. Sometimes I am also unsure about the authenticity of the author whose name is attached to the quote.

Any quick way to get past this problem?

Comment provided June 23, 2010 at 11:10 PM

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There’s not really an easy way to get around this issue, Vijay. I recently read a report on the estimated number of misquoted and incorrectly attributed quotes in both mainstream media and on the Internet. I don’t recall the numbers … but I do recall that they were staggering. The best thing you can do is your due diligence in researching both the accuracy and the source of your quoted material before you include it in your article. Don’t trust the validity of just one site or reference.

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Lance Winslow writes:

Boy that is a really good point indeed, I’ve sometimes had challenges here too, so I’d write something such as; Einstein once said something to effect that “imagination is more important than knowledge” and then go on with my article, or described something someone said such as Machiavelli in the Prince made the point that “it is better to be loved and respected than feared and respected, however being feared and respected is second best.”

By doing this, I quote the “thought” and allow the reader to know that it may not be the “exact words” but it is the jist of the idea, or how I interpreted what was said by whom. Even WikiPedia doesn’t often have correct quotes, and I have a couple of quote books on my desk here, they disagree often with each other and all the stuff on the Internet. It’s a great topic.

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3
Lance Winslow writes:

Are you posing this blog post due to the new Internet Copyright Rules we are all expecting in the future, thus heading off potential future issues in that regard. It seems that the “fair use” copyright rules, have been stretched over the years online especially with “news aggregators” and online vidoes, and re-written news articles. So, I for one expect more scrutiny in this, and since EzineArticles is the largest site of its type online, no doubt it too may come under scrutiny.

However, it is in my estimation for the most part safe in this issue, due to its focus, expert authors, and editorial posting rules. Still, it would make sense if this blog post of yours had these thoughts in the back of your head as you wrote it, because this will be a future issue. One I think in the end will become a plus for us authors who occassionally find their material and articles ripped off and posted on other websites, some of which use scraper strategies to lift content from other websites.

And as I recall there is a rule here that authors keep quotes to a minimum, which I presume is also due to not stretching fair use copyright rules.

I find the best way to use quotes and still maintain expert status is to take questions posed by clients, customers, or readers and use those questions, as quotes from them, and then answer in your own voice. I find this to be the very best use of quotes, and believe your comments of using quotes in media, or research as a point of difference of opinion and then state your expert disagreement or counter-argument to be spot on. These also make great articles, as the drill down into the topic for the reader.

These are some of my most read articles, ones which give me the most feedback from emails, phone calls, etc. Those are my thoughts.

To the individual above, well you know 70-words in a paragraph or block is quite a few, perhaps pushing the limit.

I had a serious of articles however on LED Vibrational lighting, where I used the same sentences, about 4-5 in 20-different articles to describe the technology of “shakable flashlights” and then each article explained in-depth how this technology could be used by various applications, in different categories. They too were flagged for duplicate content, even though the articles were quite unique in all regards, EXCELLENT articles, and each one down-right patentable applications for an inventor or innovator, to see those as coming into the duplicated rules was quite upsetting to me.

But, I’d like to notify the poster of the comment above, that’s really not what this blog post is about, rather it is about the use of quotes, and there is a limit in the guidelines here, read the rules in the editorial section, and I believe you will see that.

Anyway those are some of my comments on this VERY IMPORTANT topic and blog post, the Internet is changing, and EzineArticles will have to adapt, and really author’s should follow this advice, because it makes for a better reader experience + it places you as the expert, rather than a reporter of some other expert, meaning, what use are you to the reader, who may have wanted to buy something from your site, whether it be a product, or service. See that point?

Comment provided June 23, 2010 at 11:29 PM

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4

I agree. Quotes must be relevant for the content presented, and anyone thinking you could get away with just quotes would be senseless. But, as you say, when someone else has already made a valid point, why would anyone then rephrase and lose part of the meaning?

Likewise, when writing about religion it’s almost impossible not to have one or two quotes for emphasis.

But thanks for inspiring us to strive higher always as we partake in the exciting HAHD challenge. :-)

Comment provided June 24, 2010 at 9:20 AM

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5
Jerry Myers writes:

Quotes rock and have even more power when they are your own!

Comment provided June 24, 2010 at 12:29 PM

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6

This is great to know. I have seen many articles written with quotes and references scattered throughout. Not only does it appear that the author is trying too hard, but it takes the reader away from the story if they choose to click and see the source-story or quote. I use them, but minimally. It is true; I do know it all. LOL!

Comment provided June 28, 2010 at 11:03 PM

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7
Geoff writes:

Like you say, quotes can have their place, as long as they aren’t overdone. Quoting a recognised authority, for example, can add a certain credibility to an article.

Comment provided July 5, 2010 at 4:53 AM

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8
Vijay Agrawal writes:

I agree with Jerry, but think that a quote has meaning only when it add quality and insight to what is being conveyed. Else, it loses its importance.

Digressing a little from the topic here, I recall an incidence where a reporter was trying to put certain words into the mouth of the person she was interviewing: because she wanted to highlight those words as “quotes” in her article. Such distorted attempts trivialize the very purpose of using quotes.

It appalls me to often see quotes without the author, or attributing it to some “anonymous” or “unknown” person, or calling it “Chinese Proverb” or from “a Zen Master”, etc. Clearly. the writer has deviated from the normal common-sense protocol of writing.

Comment provided July 12, 2010 at 12:47 AM

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Lance Winslow writes:

Vijay, this happens all the time. In fact, when I am interviewed I often help the reporters by repeating their question without the who, what, when, where, how, or why, and thus it becomes a statement. They love it, and then they can go back and finish their article. After all, most reporters are going to write what they darn well feel like anyway.

Look, before anyone debates me. I’ve been interviewed in the media all my life, stories about my companies, athletics, and me personally. Never, not once did the reporter get the story exactly right, and it hardly matters the publication or media outlet. Even PBS misquoted me, so has the Wall Street Journal, Business Journal, and numerous other daily newspapers, trade journals, and visual media. It just is!

Trust no one, and NEVER trust the media.

Now then, with this said, it is paramount that you and I don’t join the fray, we MUST get the quotes right, otherwise we are purporting falsehoods and hurting our credibility and those sources we quote. Think on this every body.

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9
jon bone writes:

I agree quotes can add value in the right place, as long as they aren’t overdone.

Comment provided October 20, 2010 at 5:39 AM

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