Quoting sources in an article lends both color and credibility to a news story. However, a writer should only use quotes that advance the narrative in a clarifying and concise way. If the reporter can make a point more clearly by paraphrasing in her own words, she should do so.

Basic Rules for Quotes

A reporter shouldn't start a news story with a quote. A quote should only be included if the speaker has valuable information that enlightens and engages the reader; dry facts or statistics are usually better left in the reporter's text. For example, if a reporter is writing about an entertainment event, there's little value in quoting the promoter of the event if all he says is, "The event begins at 8 p.m." Quotes should be used to give voice to the opinions and emotions of sources. A reporter might use a quote from that same promoter if he says, "We've tried for years to get this band to appear at our festival, and this year they finally said yes." The Associated Press discourages the use of partial quotes. AP also suggests using quotes for a source's controversial or sensitive remarks. In a story about a speech or an individual, the first quote should be no lower in the story than the third or fourth paragraph, according to The News Manual.

Rules for Attribution

The speaker should usually be listed after the quote, as in the following example: "The mayor's speech was too brief," said Councilman Mike Jones. If another speaker is quoted immediately following a quote, then it's fine to give the speaker attribution before the quote to avoid confusing the reader: "The mayor's speech was too brief," said Councilman Mike Jones. But Councilman Joe Smith disagreed, and said, "The mayor was concise and to the point." If the quote is more than one sentence, attribution should be given to the speaker after the first sentence.