By using direct quotes, you can bring a story alive.

Before you start writing the story, look at the quotes you’ve got from your sources and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the quote state something in an interesting way or give information that should come directly from the source?
  • Does it reveal the source’s opinions or feelings?
  • Does it back up the main point or a supporting point in your story?
  • Is the quote descriptive or dramatic?

If you answer no to all of these questions, either paraphrase or summarise the quote as narrative, or discard it altogether.

7 tips for using quotes in your writing

  1. Use anecdotes and direct quotes to tell the story; try not to use too many of your own words.
  2. Avoid quotes that are unclear, are irrelevant to the focus of your story, or repeat what’s already been said.
  3. Talk to more than one person to get a more complete picture.
  4. Organise the quotes so that they tell a story; then add facts from your interviews.
  5. Don’t put too many quotes together; break them up with a paragraph of factual information.
  6. End with a good quote or an anecdote that relates to the lead.
  7. Always check all quotes with your sources!