Attribution means identifying the source of a direct quote or paraphrase. If an editor wishes to use the direct words or ideas of another, he should indicate by including a short statement that identifies the source. Notice the following example:

"The chorus needs an extra rehearsal," the director said.

In most instances, put the quote first and the attribution after it.

When changing speakers, however, identify the new speaker ahead of his/her comment so that the reader knows the speaker is changing.

"The chorus needs an extra rehearsal," the director said. The assistant director added, "We also need sectional rehearsals."

Identify who is speaking at the first natural break in a quote or paraphrase, usually at the end of the first sentence.

"Of course the chorus needs an extra rehearsal," the director said. "It's only sensible. We simply aren't ready for the show as things now stand."

Identify the speaker as often as necessary to clarify who is speaking. It is not necessary to attribute every sentence in a running quote, but it is advisable to insert attribution periodically to help the reader keep track of who is speaking.

Don't be afraid of using the verb "said" for attribution. Most alternative attributive verbs carry some editorial connotation: asserted, demanded, charged, insisted, pointed out, etc. Readers are accustomed to seeing said as an attributive verb and tend to pass over it without thinking. Do, however, use a particular attributive verb when special meaning or emphasis is intended. For example:

The category specialist emphasized that the quartet would be disqualified if it sang that song in the contest. "The rules require that we do so, and we would have no choice," he warned.

Altering quotes

Should an editor change or edit a speaker's grammar, whether from an oral or written statement?

It is usually the responsibility of the editor to correct such statements that contain apparent grammatical errors. There is no need to embarrass someone in print for this. If, however, ungrammatical speech is characteristic of the speaker's/writer's style, the editor may prefer not to make corrections.

A special problem arises for editors when quoting material that some readers might consider offensive. If there is any question about whether or not a particular passage or phrase is in good taste, the editor should not use it, or he should paraphrase to retain the central idea. The decision to delete indecent or insensitive language in print is ultimately the editor's. He must always keep his readers in mind, recognizing the sensitivity of all members and their families. The editor's audience extends beyond his chapter; therefore, he must be alert to the image of the Society and his chapter that his bulletin projects.


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