I’m starting a new feature on Bad Language – an agony column. This is inspired by guilty pleasure Dear Prudence on Slate. If you have any pressing problems, please send them to me and I’ll do my best to answer them. Feel free to add your own advice and comments to this post. (And Digg it too please!)
Dear Uncle Matthew,
I have an ongoing debate with one of my suppliers regarding quotes. Of course, I win since he’s a supplier, but I don’t want that to be the only reason. He always insists that the quote should begin with the name of the person being quoted. Smith said, etc.
Says it helps the reporter or editor see at a glance who is saying it. My position is that it’s more important to start a line with something interesting being said and the reporter or editor can find who is being quoted without any problem (unless we’ve written a shamefully long quote).
Also, I like quotes to be two short and interesting phrases or lines, with “said Smith” as the breather in between, not a solid block of copy. Do you have an opinion on this or does it seem silly to you? Thanks.
“I agree with you,” said Matthew Stibbe, Writer in Chief at Articulate Marketing. “Sometimes a run-on quote can be useful too.”
Your supplier says that putting the name before the quote makes life easier for a report or editor. But who are you writing for? Never forget the readers! Your job is to make their life as easy as possible.
- Uncle Matthew