Ditch bad quotes with these 7 steps

Don’t let mundane or meandering quotations spoil your story—or your publication.

Quotations ruin more corporate publications than any other single element. Yes, more than rigid, posed photos, silly captions or crazy design.

It is no exaggeration to say that whole articles have been spoiled by the editor’s determination to quote a half-dozen vice presidents in full spate. Unread publications are thrown into the wastebasket every day because readers see raised, inverted commas next to the name of a buzz-word-spouting senior vice president. Here are seven tips to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

1. Never quote an executive speaking in the passive voice. Every quote should be in the active voice. A recognizable person should perform some concrete nameable action. Don’t allow this:

“Various communication materials were produced, including letters, direct-mail pieces, press releases and advertising, Thompson said. “To ensure a consistent look, brand standard manuals were also developed. These manuals detail the proper usage of the company logo, correct color codes …

Notice: The only doer in the quote above is a manual. The quote is too long. Why? Because no one does anything. It’s all manual labor.

2. Don’t be over-scrupulous or pedantic in quoting. Don’t leave every barbarism perpetrated by the vice president in your quote. For example:

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