Borrowed Wisdom: How to Use Quotes on Your Blog

By Ali Luke

Have you ever read something – perhaps in a book or blog – and thought wow, I wish I’d written that.

While you can’t take the words and pretend they’re your own, you can use them to support your blogging.

Quoting other people is a staple of many types of writing. Journalists use quotes in their stories, magazine writers interview experts to support their piece, and academics quote research papers. As a blogger, you too can borrow the wisdom of others to inspire and support your writing.

This is also an under-used technique, so it’s one that can make you stand out:

For an entire week I read every post from five A-list bloggers to see how many of their posts included quotes. Out of 31 posts, only three did.

– Bamboo Forest, Elevate Your Writing By Using Well-Positioned Quotes, Write to Done

It does take a little extra time and effort to add a quote (or a few quotes) into your post … but if you follow these steps, you can’t go wrong.

Step #1: Find an Appropriate Quote

Quotes can come from all sorts of sources, but three of the most likely ones you’ll use are:

Other Blogs

It’s easy to do a quick Google search for information when you’re writing a post: if you find a great piece of advice, you can include it in your piece as a quote. Alternatively, you might save good quotes as you’re reading, so you can use them in future posts.

Books

It’s fine to quote briefly from a book so long as you acknowledge the source (see Step #3). If you have an ereader, highlight relevant passages when you’re reading so you can easily find useful quotes afterwards.

Collections of Quotes

Sites like Brainy Quote list thousands upon thousands of quotes, and you can search by topic. If you do choose a quote that’s been widely reproduced, check several sites as the wording (and sometimes the attribution) may be incorrect in places.

Step #2: Decide How to Use the Quote

There are plenty of different ways to incorporate a quote into your post, and you don’t need to use the same method each time. These are some popular ones:

At the Start of Your Post

Alex Blackwell of The Bridgemaker has a quote at the start of every post he writes. This is a technique you’ll sometimes see used in books, with a quote at the start of each chapter.

As the Basis for Your Post

Barry Demp of The Quotable Coach bases each of his posts on a specific quote. Here on Daily Blog Tips, we often quote from and explain a good resource when we link to it – see The Psychology Behind The “One Weird Trick” Ads for an example.

To Support a Point You’re Making

Often, a quote from an expert can be a great way to support a particular part of your post. For instance, in Sonia Simone’s post The 5 Things Every (Great) Marketing Story Needs, her bonus – You need the truth – uses a quote from a book.

Step #3: Format the Quote Correctly

It’s often a good idea to distinguish quotes from the rest of your post, especially if you’re quoting more than a line or so.

There’s a handy HTML tag for this: <blockquote>

(Most visual blog editors will have a button that looks like quotation marks: this applies the <blockquote> formatting.)

Different blog themes will have different styles of blockquotes, but almost all will indent the text from the left. They may use a different font colour or size, and might add other features like a quotation mark graphic or a line down the left hand side.

For very short quotes, you may not want to use the blockquote formatting. You can simply incorporate them into your sentence, using quotation marks. Here’s an example:

This week, I’ve decided to use more quotes on my blog. I was inspired by Ali Luke who explains, “You too can borrow the wisdom of others to inspire and support your writing.”

If you want more on punctuating posts correctly, check out 8 Tips for Using Quotes and Dialogue in Your Blog Posts (ProBlogger).

Step #4: Attribute the Quote Correctly

Make sure that all the quotes you use are attributed carefully: don’t just throw them in without a name or source.

At a bare minimum, you should include the name of the person (or where that’s not available, the website / publication) that the quote is from.

Normally, if you’re quoting from a blog post or website, it’s good to link to the source. This helps out the person you’re quoting (links are good for their search engine ranking) and it also offers extra value to your readers, who may want to read the whole of the source piece.

If you’re going to use quotes on a reasonably regular basis, work out a good standard way to attribute them. There are plenty of ways to do this. I like to have both the quote and the attribution in blockquote format, like this:

[quote]

– [name], [title of post, which links to it], [name of blog]

So, for instance, if you quoted from this post, you might do it like this:

Normally, if you’re quoting from a blog post or website, it’s good to link to the source. This helps out the person you’re quoting (links are good for their search engine ranking) and it also offers extra value to your readers, who may want to read the whole of the source piece.

– Ali Luke, Borrowed Wisdom: How to Use Quotes on Your Blog, Daily Blog Tips

Bonus Step: Changing the Quote

Sometimes, you’ll need to make changes to a quote. This is OK, but it needs to be clear to readers what’s changed. For instance:

  • You might cut out a section of a long quote.
  • You might alter a word to help the quote make sense.

There are standard conventions for doing this.

Cutting Part of a Quote

Use an ellipsis (three dots) to indicate where the cut part is.

Normally, if you’re quoting from a blog post or website, it’s good to link to the source. This … offers extra value to your readers, who may want to read the whole of the source piece.

Some writers like to put the ellipsis in square brackets too, like this: […]

Warning: Be careful not to use an ellipsis to change the meaning of a quotation.

Changing a Word in a Quote

Sometimes, a quote doesn’t quite work out of context: for instance, there might be a word like “he” or “it” or “this” that refers to something in a previous sentence.

The easiest way to fix this is to simply replace the word by putting the new word or phrase in square brackets. For instance, in our example quote, you might choose to use the second sentence only, and change the word “this” at the start:

[Linking to the source] offers extra value to your readers, who may want to read the whole of the source piece.

 

Your turn! Use a quote in the next blog post you write. If you get stuck or you’re not sure if you’ve done it right, just pop a comment below so we can help.

 




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10 Responses to “Borrowed Wisdom: How to Use Quotes on Your Blog”

  • Caren Gittleman

    I use quotes frequently on both of my blogs and find them to be super helpful and powerful tools. Great tips! (my biggest pet peeve is when I see people use quotes from songs, etc and they don’t attribute them or put quotes around them!)

  • Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Ali,

    Formatting makes all the difference.

    Excellent tips!

    Timely too, as I started publishing my own inspirational quotes via my blog recently.

    Block quote, credit me, brand me and prosper.

    Thanks!

  • Joseph Lalonde

    I think using quotes in your blog posts is a fantastic idea. It’s something I do frequently but not enough now.

    An added benefit to using a quote is it gives you added authority because there’s another expert backing you up.

  • Pakde Cholik

    Many times I copy a quote in may article mainly from this site. Of course I wrote your name and give a link to your article.
    Thank you.

  • Jason Cotterill

    Thank you for the great tips there, Ali. I remember reading a blog and witnessing the author using the same quotes you did and I was curious how he did it. I’m glad I know now and will definitely be using this in my company’s blog from now on! Thanks again, Ali.

    Jason

  • Ali Luke

    Thanks everyone!

    @Joseph — that’s a really important point, and probably one for me to address in another post… 🙂

    @Pakde — thank you! Daniel and I very much appreciate that.

    @Jason — so pleased this was useful to you, and best of luck with your company blogging.

  • Natalie

    I used to love going on brainy quotes and reading up on what people I admired had said. But I had never previously thought about quoting others on my blog. If I am writing a review of a particular product, would maybe including quotes from someone else’s review be a way of going about it?

  • Jamie

    Great post! I’ve used brainy quote quite a bit – they have pretty much every quote! People can relate to quotes, because of that I think it increases user engagement in almost any type of blog post.

    Thanks for posting this.

  • faisal

    BEST IS to customize the quote to make it highlight a valid point.

  • Hamza Sheikh

    Yeah. No doubts, starting with a quote is unique, and has its own perk on readers. I have seen many bloggers using this technique to add some spice in their content, and overcome the readers bored doom.

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