Hi! I’m Kathy Ide. In addition to being a published author, I’m a full-time professional freelance editor. For CAN, I’m blogging about tips for writers based on the manuscripts I edit.

Quoting Other Sources

If you have quotations in your manuscript (whether you got them from a book, an article, a blog post, or the Bible), look them all up to make absolutely certain you’ve copied them exactly as in the original—not just the words, but also the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. Never rely on your memory, no matter how sure you are that you’ve memorized something accurately.

The Chicago Manual of Style (#2.41, 13.7–8) and The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style (pp. 258–259, 348, 351–352) allow for the following exceptions when quoting:


  1. Single quotation marks may be changed to double, and double to single, as the situation warrants.


  1. Commas or periods outside the closing quotation mark may be moved inside.


  1. The initial letter may be changed to a capital or a lowercase letter (depending on whether the quote makes a complete thought).


  1. Introductory words like And, Or, For, Therefore, But, and Verily can be omitted.


  1. The final punctuation mark in the original quotation may be omitted or changed to suit the format of the sentence in which it is quoted, and punctuation marks may be omitted where ellipsis points are used.


  1. In a passage quoted from a modern book, journal, or newspaper, an obvious typographical error may be corrected. (Leave archaic spellings the same.)


  1. Words that are italicized in Scripture because they were added by the Bible translator for clarity should not be italicized when a verse or passage is quoted in a manuscript.


  1. When quoting a passage of Scripture, do not include the verse numbers (unless the text following the quotation is an analysis of the individual verses).


  1. The words Lord and God should not be written in cap-and-small-cap style (Lord and God), even if printed that way in the original text. (Exception: Zondervan, the US publisher of the New International Version, prefers that the cap-and-small-cap style be used for Old Testament uses of Lord. Do not, however, use this format when writing Lord or God within the text of your manuscript—only in NIV quotations from the OT.)


  1. In some Bible translations, certain portions of Scripture have each verse on a separate line, and the first word of each line is capitalized, regardless of whether the word begins a new sentence. When such passages are quoted in a manuscript, the verses do not need to be set as separate paragraphs. If you put them in running text, capitalize only proper names, the first word of a sentence, and the first word of a direct quotation.

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