Wikipedia:Quotations/2

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Quotations (or "quotes") are often indispensable to good writing. In Wikipedia, they offer viewers a snapshot from a text or speech just as an image offers a snapshot of a landscape. As with photographs, there is much room for editors to use their personal skill and artistic flair to improve the readability of an article. If endorsed by other users, this page suggests an optional style for the use of quotations.

Standard Wikipedia style[edit]

Citation[edit]

A quote isn't a quote if it is not attributed to the original speaker or writer. If the original writer is anonymous or unknown, this can be stated, but it should be attributed to a reliable source - you shouldn't say "— author unknown" only because you don't know who it is.

Quotes generally should come from notable sources or entities directly of some relevance to an article. The policy WP:UNDUE applies. If the source of the quote is neither notable nor otherwise important to the article, then there's no reason to be using a quote in the first place. Relevant sources need not be notable - for example, in an article about a murder, a sentence by a neighbor may be well worth quoting directly. Naming of such sources should follow notability and BLP.

Quotations should not be represented out of context or in articles where they are not relevant to the overall topic; i.e. an article on the Pentagon doesn't include Washington's warning about standing armies.

Inline quotes[edit]

Quotations should be made as short as is reasonable to convey the unique artistry, emotion, or technical precision of their phrasing. If only the information contained in part of the quote is important, consider using phrases like "he went on to say that...", "he also said...", etc. Quotes that take up fewer than about two or three lines in a paragraph can be read comfortably within the text. They should always be set off by quotation marks ("). Single quotation marks (') mark a quotation within the source which you are quoting. Curly quotation marks should be avoided for simplicity and because they still tend to be mistranslated by some older software as text passes from one system to another, as a visit to Yahoo News sometimes attests. Logical quotation mark placement is recommended by the Wikipedia Manual of Style on quotation marks.

To set inline quotes off from the surrounding text, especially when multiple quotes are used in short succession, it is often desirable to italicize them. In this case any emphasis is indicated by de-italicizing the emphasized text. Although it is permitted by the Manual of Style, we feel that editors should report quotes as they appear and leave it to the text to cite any sources calling attention to specific details. If a quote is so long that the reader needs help finding the important words, it is time for a shorter quote. It is not recommended by the guideline and should not be necessary to state "[emphasis in original]" when this is practiced in an article.

As a matter of style, some brief description of the source should be given in the text near the quote, sufficient to inform the reader where the quote is coming from and to Wikilink a relevant article about it if such a link does not yet exist in the article; i.e. say "The New York Times reported..." rather than "A New York paper reported..." — better still, say "David Brooks at the New York Times editorialized...". The naming of the author is advised by WP:MOS#quotations in any case when a full sentence or more is quoted.

Standalone quotations[edit]

When a quotation is larger than two or three lines, wikitext templates such as {{Quote}}, {{Quotation}}, or {{Cquote}}, or the HTML blockquote tag, or tables, or other methods should be used to break them out of the text. Such methods may also be desirable when a quote cannot readily be integrated with the text as it currently stands, or when it succinctly introduces an idea that is pervasive to a section.

WP:FAIRUSE must be followed when using standalone quotations. Unfortunately, the " symbol does not provide a license for copyright infringement.

Wikiquote[edit]

Policy does not place any "quota" on how many quotes are used or how long they are, but when a large number of quotes are desired it is time to start a Wikiquote project to list as many as you'd like. You should set up Template:Wikiquote on the Wikipedia page to help integrate this into the article.

When to use quotations[edit]

Use quotations when:

  • using a unique phrase or term from someone's speech or writing. (For example, Oscar Wilde's witticism "The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable".[1])
  • dealing with a potentially controversial statement. Using the actual spoken or written words can help avoid controversial statements by editors. (e.g. Using "Coulter stated that '[w]e need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' crème brûlée. That's just a joke, for you in the media.' ",[2] instead of writing in the passive narrative voice of the an article that Coulter called for the killing of a Supreme Court Justice.)
  • dealing with a statement that has a precise technical meaning that might be altered by casual editing, such as a legal phrase or a scientific principle.

When not to use quotations[edit]

Try to avoid quotations in the following circumstances.

  • Summary/paraphrase. When the information won't be damaged by routine handling, do not use quotes. If the CDC commissioner says that baths and long walks are good for the Tiberian flu, you don't need to make a quote out of it just to make it sound more authoritative.
  • Duplication. A quotation should only be made once in an article, no matter how much it is discussed.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Oscar Wilde: the critical heritage, by Karl E. Beckson, p. 306 citing act one of A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde.
  2. ^ Associated Press release, Coulter Jokes About Poisoning Supreme Court Justice, Fox News, January 27, 2006