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I have noticed that BBC will frequently not use closing quotes when quoting long paragraphs of text, as an example it occurs twice in this article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-30816255

Here:

"One application we are working on is indoor navigation which means we have sensors within the shoe that measure the acceleration of the foot, the angular velocity - whether you're turning the foot or not - and the magnetic field.

and here:

"Generated power scales with size, but if you want to be able to reasonably integrate such a device within a shoe sole, you have to work with strict constraints, like a small height and limited length of the device.

Is this correct? This is not just an editor's oversight, they do it frequently. Why do they omit the closing quote, is it because the end of the paragraph implies the end of the quote?

  • 1
    When a quote spans multiple paragraphs, like it does in these instances, it is usually wrong to put a closing quotation mark at the end of all quoted paragraphs except the last one. "and the magnetic field. "From the data from these sensors, " – Jonathan Spirit Jan 16 '15 at 20:34
  • Jinx! Same time! – Affable Geek Jan 16 '15 at 20:35
  • @AffableGeek Haha, yeah. Just as I posted my comment, then came the answers. (I was first by 5 seconds, I'm so amazing.) (That was a joke.) – Jonathan Spirit Jan 16 '15 at 20:38
  • If you're interested, longtime EL&U contributor J.R. provides an excellent explanation of why this style exists in response to the question Why does the multi-paragraph quotation rule exist? – Sven Yargs Jan 17 '15 at 9:44
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The online BBC Style Guide is silent on the matter.

The Chicago Manual of Style (13.20) however gives guidance that if a quote extends to multiple paragraphs, the closing quote only goes at the end. Each paragraph will lead with an initial quotation (as your example shows), but the trailing quotation mark only goes at the end.

  • Now you can close vote. Just another review queue to waste time in, I suppose. – user39425 Jan 16 '15 at 21:18
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This is the normal English language style when quoting more than one paragraph; you use the opening quotes at the start of each quoted paragraph, but only closing quotes on the last paragraph quoted.

Indeed, if you look at the article you link to, you can see that this is precisely what they did. The first quote that you in turn quoted is in full:

"One application we are working on is indoor navigation which means we have sensors within the shoe that measure the acceleration of the foot, the angular velocity - whether you're turning the foot or not - and the magnetic field.

"From the data from these sensors, you could calculate how far you have travelled and in which direction. So imagine a rescue unit walking into a building they don't know. They could then track which way they went on their handheld device."

And the second:

"Generated power scales with size, but if you want to be able to reasonably integrate such a device within a shoe sole, you have to work with strict constraints, like a small height and limited length of the device.

"We believe we have built comparatively small devices, considering the power output."

The purpose of the quotation marks is after all to inform the reader that this is a quote from someone else. It would make logical sense to only put a quotation mark before the first paragraph and after the last, but the reader can lose track of the fact that they are reading quoted material, so having the open quote before each paragraph signals that the quoting is still happening.

Conversely if the quote was closed after each paragraph it would look like two separate quotations, rather than a single long one.

1

You don't show an important bit of context. Many style guides say the closing quote if omitted if the quoted material continues in the next paragraph, where a new opening quote is then used. If that's the case in the items cited, that's your explanation.

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The "style" writers are mutating the language and usage. An opening quote without a closing quote is inappropriate. As cited, each new "open quote" is actually a close quote for the previous section meaning that the new quote block is supposed to be their own actual words. The "leave off the close quote" method is unbalanced. That "journalists" are following a broken standard is no longer a surprise to me, though I'd expect better from journalists outside the US.

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