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"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

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If you wrote about the moon landing in 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong did you a big favor. He uttered what is perhaps the most famous quote ever and with it wrote headlines and leads for writers all over the world.

In any form of writing, powerful quotes that advance your copy are a godsend. They bring color and clarity and variety. Who wants to read 500 words of your exposition?

Quotes are the crucial ingredient to well-crafted copy, but using them correctly can be a challenge. Here are some rules and advice for proper use of quotes and related punctuation.

Cutting and replacing quotes

I know, it's rude to cut people off when they're talking, but in writing, it's sometimes necessary. Your speaker might have rambled on mercilessly or uttered things that make them sound like a bloodthirsty Satan worshiper. So, cut some stuff out.

You can indicate you omitted something from a quote with an ellipses, which is a series of three periods (...).

Here's an orignal quote, followed by a truncated version with an ellipses.

⭐"You were the chosen one! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! Bring balance to the force, not leave it in darkness! You were my brother Anakin! I loved you!"

⭐"You were the chosen one! ... You were my brother Anakin! I loved you!"

In other cases, you might need to clarify something in a quote or correct a mistake, replacing the questionable material with your own words. You indicate this with brackets.

📝"I hope we [you and me] learn something from all this."

The speaker above did not say "you and me." The words clarify who "we" is for the reader in case they can't comprehend basic English.

You don't say?

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Are you ruining great quotes with terrible attribution? You might be.

I often see quotes with attributions like "he noted" or "she stated" or "they demanded" or "she surmised."

What happened to just "saying" something? Remember that. Unless you're writing the next great American novel, keep your attribution to "said/says." You can throw in "adds/added" or maybe even "explains/explained." That should cover it.

If your quotes are strong, let them do the talking. Trying to get clever with the attribution takes away from the power of the speaker.

Breaking up long quotes

In some cases, the quotes you want to use are very long. Maybe your source is explaining a complicated process or telling a story that just won't end.

In that case, you can break the quote into two paragraphs or more to give the reader a visual break.

When using quotes over multiple paragraphs, you must use a quote mark at the beginning of each paragraph but only at the end of the final paragraph. Like this:

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created

equal.

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"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this."

Note: No closing quote mark after "equal" at the end of the first paragraph.

Why so tense?

Avoid traveling back and forth in time with your quotes. Stick to either "says" or "said" or whatever attribution you're using. Don't use both in the same piece.

I think, therefore I talk

If you're interviewing someone for whatever it is you're working on, when you transcribe the interview or get the transcription back from a service, it will be loaded with useless, nonsensical stuff.

Besides "um" and "like" and "right?" probably the No. 1 phrase you can lose is "I think."

👄 "I think it's important to give back to the community."

The above statement is more effective, I'd argue, with "I think" removed.

👄 "It's important to give back to the community."

If they are saying it, of course they are thinking it. Every time you encounter "I think," just delete it.

Quotes and punctuation quick guide

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This might be too ambitious, but I'm going to cover most of the most common punctuation rules you need to follow when using quotation marks. Damn, that was a mouthful.

1️⃣ Although not common, you might use attribution and the corresponding punctuation before a quote.

  • He said, "Be quiet!"
  • He said: "Be quiet or I'm going to give you something to cry about."

2️⃣ Commas and periods always go inside quotation marks. Yes, that's an absolute.

  • "I'd rather not read more about punctuation," she said. "I've had it."

3️⃣ Colons, dashes, and semicolons are almost always placed outside quotation marks.

  • She follows three rules she calls the "triad of success": plan, research, execute.
  • "You" — he rose to his feet, pointing to the man — "get your smug face out of here."
  • The yellow folders were marked "top secret"; the rest were not classified.

The only exception to this rule is if the colon, dash, or semicolon is part of the quote itself.

4️⃣ Question marks and exclamation points sometimes go inside your quote marks and sometimes they don't. It depends, but it's easy to figure out.

Are the questions or exclamations part of your quote? Then put the question marks and exclamation points in the quote marks. Like this:

  • The man screamed "Fire!" in the middle of the midnight showing of "Backdraft."
  • Can you believe the song "What Does the Fox Say?" was a hit?

There you have it. And you can quote me on that.

#GrumpyGrammarGuru #Copywritingtips

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Source : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/idiot-proof-guide-using-quotes-brian-moore

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