3 Examples of Proper Attribution of Quotations

By Mark Nichol

1. “‘Of the 230 companies we inventoried in 1984, 54 had gone out of business or been taken over by 1987. From 1981 to 1994, we lost 84 percent,’ said Smith.”
Interrupt a quotation of more than one sentence with an attribution following the first sentence to avoid a delay in identifying the speaker or writer: “’Of the 230 companies we inventoried in 1984, 54 had gone out of business or been taken over by 1987,’ said Smith. ‘From 1981 to 1994, we lost 84 percent.’”

2. “Echoing the thoughts of his fellow players, Jones perhaps said it best, ‘We never wanted to disappoint him under any circumstances.’”
When an attribution consists of a complete thought that sets up the quotation that follows, use a colon rather than a comma, to set the attribution off from the quotation: “Echoing the thoughts of his fellow players, Jones perhaps said it best: ‘We never wanted to disappoint him under any circumstances.’”

3. “And while bin Laden’s killing has dealt a crippling blow to his terrorist organization, she said, ‘Nobody should believe individual al Qaeda leaders cannot be replaced.’”
To provide context for the quotation, the writer has added the paraphrased dependent clause preceding the attribution, uniting the clause and the quotation into an extended sentence. Because this sentence no longer begins with nobody, the word is no longer capitalized: “And while bin Laden’s killing has dealt a crippling blow to his terrorist organization, she said, ‘nobody should believe individual al Qaeda leaders cannot be replaced.’”

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1 Response to “3 Examples of Proper Attribution of Quotations”

  • philip

    Number 3. in my opinion, is clumsy and unfixable. I would rewrite. Almost anything would sound better. I mean that I see no way to adequately convey the meaning in a single sentence.

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