The quote formula

J3117 - Summer 2017J3300 - Summer 2017Journalism Thoughts

The most fluid and clear way to structure a quote is to use what I call the quote formula. It has two parts. The first part is the introduction, where you would give the full name and title (if it is the first reference of that person) as well as a brief explanation as to why they are important to the story.

The second part, which is its own paragraph, is the direct quote. You should only use direct quotes for the most compelling parts — think of it as the text version of a soundbite. Everything else should be paraphrased.

An example: Andy Garmond, a climate scientist and professor at Florida Atlantic University, said poorer areas of north Miami-Dade County are particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise.

“The city of North Miami is just screwed,” he said. “It’s going to be a real mess.”

Other tips (which you should read as “requirements” for the purposes of this class):

  • Do not stack quotes. That is, do not quote person A and, in the next paragraph quote person B. Each time you switch sources, you must use the quote formula.
  • Use no more than three sentences for any direct quote. You should really be shooting for no more than two. 
  • Put the attribution (that is “he said”) after the first sentence. This makes it clear to your reader who is speaking.
Week 6 – Final article and schedule
Syllabus – Capstone

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