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My answer to a question on another Stack Exchange site included this block quote from a science fiction story ("Thus We Refute Charlemagne" by R. A. Lafferty):

"We are going to tamper with one small detail in past history and note its effect," Gregory said. "This has never been done before openly. We go back to an era that has been called 'A patch of light in the vast gloom,' the time of Charlemagne. We consider why that light went out and did not kindle others. The world lost four hundred years by that flame expiring when the tinder was apparently ready for it. We go back to that false dawn of Europe and consider where it failed. The year was 778, and the region was Spain.

It looks funny to me withoug a quotation mark at the end. There is, of course a closing quotation mark in the source text, but only after some further words which I had no need to quote. (As it happens, I quoted a full paragraph, and the closing quotation mark is in a later paragraph, but I don't think that makes any difference.)

What was the right way to handle this? Copy it just as it appears, with no closing quotation mark, even though it looks funny? Silently add a quotation mark at the end? Add a quotation mark preceded by dots to show an omission? Add a quotation mark in square brackets?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Edwin Ashworth, curiousdannii, NVZ, Helmar, tchrist Oct 13 '16 at 11:55

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • This is arguably off-topic here. You might like to ask these kinds of questions at Writing. :) – curiousdannii Oct 13 '16 at 10:12
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    CPVPV: Why was this closed? This isn't any more opinion based than any other answer about punctuation taken from a style guide. – deadrat Oct 13 '16 at 18:01
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Punctation is a matter of style, and as such, you should be guided by your manual of style. I prefer the Chicago Manual of Style, which gives you three options.

You may run in your quotation as above, in which case, place a final quote at the end of the paragraph:

"We are going to tamper with one small detail in past history and note its effect," Gregory said. "This has never been done before openly. We go back to an era that has been called 'A patch of light in the vast gloom,' the time of Charlemagne. We consider why that light went out and did not kindle others. The world lost four hundred years by that flame expiring when the tinder was apparently ready for it. We go back to that false dawn of Europe and consider where it failed. The year was 778, and the region was Spain."

If the quote runs "to eight or ten typed lines", set off the quote. You may set off the entire quote after the attribution, using no quotation marks:

Gregory noted:

We are going to tamper with one small detail in past history and note its effect. This has never been done before openly. We go back to an era that has been called 'A patch of light in the vast gloom,' the time of Charlemagne. We consider why that light went out and did not kindle others. The world lost four hundred years by that flame expiring when the tinder was apparently ready for it. We go back to that false dawn of Europe and consider where it failed. The year was 778, and the region was Spain.

Or you may run in the first sentence with the usual quotation marks and set off the rest without quotation marks:

"We are going to tamper with one small detail in past history and note its effect," Gregory said, continuing

This has never been done before openly. We go back to an era that has been called 'A patch of light in the vast gloom,' the time of Charlemagne. We consider why that light went out and did not kindle others. The world lost four hundred years by that flame expiring when the tinder was apparently ready for it. We go back to that false dawn of Europe and consider where it failed. The year was 778, and the region was Spain.

Or finally, you may set off the quote without quotation marks and embed the attribution in brackets:

We are going to tamper with one small detail in past history and note its effect [Gregory said]. This has never been done before openly. We go back to an era that has been called 'A patch of light in the vast gloom,' the time of Charlemagne. We consider why that light went out and did not kindle others. The world lost four hundred years by that flame expiring when the tinder was apparently ready for it. We go back to that false dawn of Europe and consider where it failed. The year was 778, and the region was Spain.

  • Thank you for your reply. I guess I didn't state my question clearly. – bof Oct 13 '16 at 8:19
  • @bof I'm sorry it didn't help. Could you restate your question. – deadrat Oct 13 '16 at 17:59

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