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I had someone send me a piece recently that include a few quotes from an interview. The structure was (between the lines, items in parenthesis my addition):


Here are a few quotes that support my position from person x:

"quote 1 from a person" (partial sentence)

"quote 2 list here" (partial sentence, separate from quote 1)

This means to me that ....


My question is that in the proper way to show this. Are the two quotes fine to be shown like this, or would you separate them with an ellipsis with one set of quotation marks? If they are part of the same or different paragraph, does it matter? Can they be inline in the paragraph

Or is this just a stylistic decision for the author/editor?

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3 Answers 3

As others have said already, this comes down to common sense.

If the two quotes are from the same source, and appear in that source in the same order in which you are using them, and actually do work together, then you can quote them inline within one set of quotation marks. Whether or not they come from different sentences, paragraphs, or chapters, is pretty much irrelevant as long as the combined quote a) actually makes sense at all in your new context and b) stays true to the original text.

If you are re-ordering the quotes or taking them from two different works by the same author, you should keep them separate — again, in order to stay true to the original(s).

In other words, if the original text by person X says:

I would go with XYZ. It is fine. I like it. It is totally awesome. Blablabla.

Wall of text, wall of text, wall of text. Wall of text, wall of text, wall of text. Wall of text, wall of text, wall of text. Wall of text, wall of text, wall of text. Wall of text, wall of text, wall of text.

Blablabla. XYZ is absolutely great and does all things.

Then I would argue that it is perfectly acceptable to quote it as follows:

Person X says that XYZ "is fine [...,] totally awesome [...] and does all things".

I don't think that the size of that wall of text matters in the slightest. See it this way: the quote is not actually combined; it is shortened. The author is actually saying those exact things in that exact order. But of course, it would also be fine to write:

Person X says that XYZ is "fine", "totally awesome", and "absolutely great".

This has the additional advantage that you can re-order much more easily:

Person X says that XYZ is "absolutely great", "totally awesome", and "fine".

However, the following, obviously, would not be acceptable:

Person X says, "[XYZ] is totally [...] great".

Lastly, it should be noted that you start your sentence with "Here are a few quotes" (emphasis added). If you actually combine those few quotes into one, you must re-word accordingly. If, on the other hand, you expressly wish to stress the fact that there are several quotes that support your opinion, you shouldn't be in the business of combining them to begin with. Keep them separate:

I would go with XYZ. Person X seems to support my position. He says, "[XYZ] is fine". He also says, "It is totally awesome". Lastly, he even says that it "is absolutely great and does all things".

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Nicely put, good examples. But "different chapters"? As a reader, I will be interested in the context of a quotation. If two phrases are within one set of quotes, I must assume that they were written within the same context. If an author says the same thing in two different contexts, not merely as a rewording in the same argument, that may have some significance for me. It is unlikely that two different chapters could constitute a single context; for that reason I'd prefer two sets of quotes. If something is said in two separate contexts, it may be considered e.g. more plausible by the reader. –  Cerberus Dec 31 '10 at 1:06

I put two quoted elements between one set of quotation marks ("x ... y") if there is a strong link between them; I am afraid this ultimately comes down to common sense: I couldn't pin it down to a rule.

If they belong to the same (sub)argument or to one line of thought, the link is usually strong enough. Most good writers would put one thought in one paragraph, so I believe putting the threshold between paragraphs, as Red suggested, is a good rule of thumb.

But there are bound to be exceptions, such as two elements from a list (might go into one quote), and two elements that are from one paragraph but use references so different that they might be ambiguous when put together.

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I would use an ellipsis if the two quotes together form a coherent sentence which I believe express what the interviewee meant.

I'd keep them separate if the two quotes form two separate supporting statements, relatively independent from one another. This is almost certain to be the case if the two quotations come from separate paragraphs.

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