A brief note on quotes

December 11, 2013

By Ed Henninger
Design Elements 

“Quotes make the story!”

How many times have we heard that? Oh … maybe thousands.

Unfortunately, we too often fail to give good quotes their due. And, unfortunately again, when we do use a good quote in a pullout, we don’t use it well.

I confess: I wouldn’t hesitate a moment to trim a story so I can display a good pull quote with it. Yes, pull quotes can take up about three or four column inches of space, but a good pull quote—well displayed—can draw readers into a story. It often does the job better than the headline.

Some thoughts on the creation and display of pull quotes:

Let them breathe. Placing a heavy rule above and/or below a pull quote (example at right) may make readers bounce up to the top of the next column in the package.

It’s OK to place them in the middle of a leg of type. As long as you allow enough text above and below the pull quote, readers are perceptive enough to see that they should continue reading below the quote.

Place the pullout in a paragraph, not between paragraphs. A pull quote between paragraphs just invites readers to stop reading when they get to the quote.

Avoid a pull quote design that calls for large quote marks. That look is dated.

Do you set pull quotes centered? Flush left? Even flush right? Some of my clients, depending on the overall display of the package, use any of the three (but not all at the same time).

Treat pull quotes like headlines: Use only single quote marks.

Treat pull quotes like headlines: Don’t hyphenate.

A pull quote stretched across two columns (or more) can become too dominant.

A pull quote centered between two columns can create poor word spacing in adjacent text. It’s a problem I avoid by choosing not to use the centered placement.

“Quotes make the story!” It’s true. But how you make the quote helps to make the package.

Want a free evaluation of your newspaper’s design? Just contact me at edh@henningerconsulting.com or at 803-327-3322.

If this column has been helpful, you may be interested in my books “Henninger on Design” and “101 Henninger Helpful Hints.” With their help you’ll have a better idea how to design for your readers. Find out more at www.henningerconsulting.com. © Ed Henninger 2013


ED HENNINGER is an independent newspaper consultant and the director of Henninger Consulting, offering comprehensive newspaper design services including redesigns, workshops, staff training and evaluations. E-mail: edh@henningerconsulting.com. On the Web: henningerconsulting.com. Phone: 803-327-3322.

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