Man and woman sitting in front of a window. "Quote" text across image.
03. September 2021 - Jeffrey A. McGuire

QUOTE, the OSP editorial code. Podcast 03

We talk about how we use the Editing Code QUOTE to add credibility, accuracy, authenticity, and visual interest to our technical communication.

In this episode, host Carl Richards interviews Felicity Brand, Christine Beuhler, Liz Robau, and Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire. We talk about how we use the Editing Code QUOTE to add credibility, accuracy, authenticity, and visual interest to our technical communication.

Welcome to the Open Strategy Partners podcast, "Communicate, Connect, Grow!" At Open Strategy Partners, we specialize in strategic product communication. We help you communicate the value of what you do, connect you with the people who need to know about it, and grow.

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"One million quotes!"

Quote your subject-matter expert directly — QUOTE Editing Code 

The QUOTE editing code falls in phase B, the flow and sections phase of the process. It’s about establishing trust with your reader by including evidence from a subject-matter expert (SME).

Quote your subject-matter expert directly wherever possible. Quotes also help add interest.

This code is useful when you have written a piece where you’ve had to interview an SME. Rather than paraphrase what they’ve said, use their words directly to build the framework of your article. 

Even if you only include one quote in your writing, it will go a long way to establish trust with your reader. By adding a credible supporting voice to your claims, you effectively reinforce the authenticity of what you’re saying. Quotes also help to break up a block of text, as well as adding color and interest. 

Learn more about our writing and editing processes and how the codes fit into them in our first-ever podcast episode, How we Write and Edit at OSP.


  • [Name of SME], the CEO of Company [Y] states, “With product [X], you have the opportunity to grow your business without reinventing the wheel.”
  • “Platform [Z] provides a centralized dashboard, so you can find the information you need in just one click.” says [Name of SME], the Senior Developer at Company [A].

As a writer, how does it help me?

Ensure technical accuracy

If you’re a writer in the tech sphere, you already know you can’t possibly speak at an expert level on all the technical programs, languages, tools, and platforms that come across your desk. But your SME can! A quote from an SME cements your piece with a high degree of technical accuracy that you, as the writer, may not be able to achieve otherwise. As Jeffrey A. “jam” McGuire, our intrepid Editing Codes inventor, says, “If we’re not technically accurate with the sorts of clients that we work with, we’re going to lose the very audience we’re trying to speak to.”

Smooth spoken vs. written awkwardness

At OSP, we often interview non-native English speakers, and direct transcriptions of their quotes can be grammatically incorrect. Or, sometimes your interviewee is simply nervous, and they speak more awkwardly than they’d like. Whatever the case, we feel it’s okay to alter quotes within reason. As a writer, you may initially feel squeamish about changing someone’s words. We say, feel empowered to make grammar corrections or smooth any awkwardness, as long as you preserve their intent and meaning. Your help in this area can make your SME and her expertise shine.

Be courteous

If you’ve altered the quote, check back with the speaker. Most of the time, they are grateful for the help in clarifying their intent and polishing their words. It also makes sense to introduce the speaker of the quote with their full name and their role, if that’s important. And, of course, use quotation marks.

As an editor, what should I look out for?

Follow your style guide

When looking at quotes as an editor, the focus is generally on grammar and punctuation. That means referring to the house style guide for decisions about smart (aka “curly”) quotation marks and whether punctuation lies inside or outside the quotation marks. The OSP Writing and Editing Guide is what we use daily to help us stay consistent.

Provide essential support

As an editor, you’re constantly scanning for tight writing. That means a quote has to provide evidence or support a point the writer is making: decorative quotes are non-essential. This also ties in nicely with another of our favorite editing codes: CRISP.

When styled differently than the surrounding text, quotes can add readability and visual relief.

As a reader, what’s in it for me?

Visual interest

Reading paragraph after paragraph of text can get tiring, no matter your level of interest in the topic. When styled differently than the surrounding text, quotes can add readability and visual relief. You might call these ‘callouts,’ which you might style with <blockquote> tags in your HTML markup. 

Build credibility + trust

Quotes add credibility and imply that you, the author, have done your homework, even when they’re part of the body text and not called out in any particular way. Jeffrey A. McGuire adds, “A quote from a well-known person that says, ‘Yes, this product or service saves me three hours of work a day’ can be compelling for the reader.”

Humanize the piece

Sometimes case studies and blog posts can read a bit … dry. Quotes can inject a dose of juice, color, and humanity (as well as authority) into the written piece. As readers, adding a quote can help us feel that the writer is an actual human, making the work more authentic and trustworthy.

Creating credible communication takes practice — join us!

Quotes lend authority, visual interest, technical accuracy, and authenticity to your writing. Even if you haven’t interviewed a SME originally, it’s never too late to get and add a quote after the fact! 

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Episode Transcript

Transcribed by free-range AI tools. No robots were harmed during the making of this podcast. If you find any errors, we can change that.

Carl Richards  0:07  
Hi, I’m Carl from OSP. And this is Communicate, Connect, Grow, the OSP podcast.

Carl Richards  0:29  
On today’s episode, we’re talking about the editing code quote about our podcast. If you want to be a more effective writer, a more transparent editor, develop clear strategic thinking, or learn from our network of expert friends and colleagues. That’s what we’re here for. We divide our episodes across three themes, communicate, connect, and grow. This is a communicate episode, and we’re talking about your writing with our editing code, quote. The quote editing code falls into phase B, the flow and sections phrase of the process. It’s about establishing trust with your reader by including evidence from a subject matter expert. In our documentation about this code, it says, quote, your subject matter expert directly wherever possible, always introduce the Speaker of the quote, with full name and their role. If that’s important. use quotation marks, quotes help add interest and credibility.

Felicity Brand  1:31  
My name is Felicity brand. And I am a communications consultant that opens strategy partners, the editing code, quote, we use to talk about quoting a subject matter expert directly in a piece of writing. That means we use quotation marks. So it’s a real person speaking about a subject, and we’ve quoted their voice, adding trust to your written pace, the reader is going to see that you as the author, you’re not claiming to be an expert, you may have made a statement, and then you can then supply this quote from a real person who hopefully knows what they’re talking about to support what you have said. So you’re adding credibility, and building trust with your reader?

Jeffrey A. McGuire  2:20  
Hey, this is Jeffrey A. McGuire, I’m a partner at open strategy partners. And I created the seeds of what has become our writing and editing processes. And the authentic communication framework, quote is an interesting editorial code in its origin, I used it to identify gaps, you made a claim, how do we back that claim up, it would be the best to get a subject matter expert, to say it in their own words and and prove our point, whatever the point is, when we’re creating some communication, one of the things that I think that we do well at OSP is writing expert level content without being experts at everything in the whole world. And we can do that by having some broad technology experience and so on, and some awareness of what our clients do, as well as being smart journalists may be so knowing when we don’t know something and asking someone who does, we can put in their actual words, and be technically accurate, which is very important, if we’re not technically accurate with the sort of clients that we work with product companies, agencies, open source software, platforms, and associations, and so on. Without technical accuracy, we’re gonna lose all of our technical audience and lose credibility forever. So this method is a way to be accurate and sensible and understand the priorities of our audience. Furthermore, from a presentation side, we like to prepare clear pages, clear PDFs, clear whatever the medium is, and having a nice blockquote in the middle of things can break it up and make it quite a pleasure to read. And if it’s something important, then people’s eyes are going to fall on to it naturally, and that can help them get what’s important about what we’re trying to say.

Christine Beuhler  4:15  
I’m Christine Bueller. I’m a communications consultant at OSP. And that means I do a lot of writing and editing for our clients. The quote editing code just means you are quoting your subject matter expert directly whenever possible in your written piece.

Liz Robau  4:42  
My name is Liz robell, and I’m a communications consultant at OSP. So I help all of our clients draft all kinds of writing. So the quote code is really about incorporating evidence into your writing. So We all learn this maybe in middle school or high school that if you’re going to make claims, you support your points with evidence, the quote, quote is about using a specific kind of evidence, which is quotes from usually subject matter experts or people who have experience in a subject and something to say about it.

Felicity Brand  5:23  
Quick impressions about quote, it automatically adds a few things to your written pace, it adds word count for a start. So if you get someone who is already an expert talking about your subject matter, it’s easier for you as a writer, you don’t have to be the expert, you can get someone else to say the words for you, it is also hopefully going to add visual interest. So if you’re lucky, if your page design offers that you can format your quotes slightly differently to the surrounding content that adds visual interest. But even if you don’t have that, the quotation marks can for a reader, if they’re scanning it, they know that there’s something juicy in there, I would say,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  6:03  
I have been interviewing technical people, and turning that into written content for more than a decade. I discovered at some point that people who are thinking on their toes or are not native English speakers, or for whatever reason, we don’t speak perfectly. If you if you look at the difference between a movie script and a documentary, a documentary is people talking naturally. And it’s kind of a mess if you write it down, and a movie script is sort of perfectly presented. So when an expert is saying something to you, and you transcribe it word for word, exactly, it might not be perfectly clear what it is they’re saying, I as an editor. Now, this may sound strange, but editing a direct quote, to be clearer and be more precise, can actually help that subject matter expert communicate more clearly, I always make sure that I get my changes approved, and that they’re happy with how we’re representing what they said. But I feel a lot of times when I can help someone be clearer about the intention of what they were saying, I think that everybody has more out of it. And that’s kind of counterintuitive, when we say, quote someone directly.

Christine Beuhler  7:17  
As an editor, when using the quote code, it’s generally a good idea just to make sure that the quote is maybe a little bit massaged. If there are lots of gems or if grammar is off, or, you know, maybe the subject matter expert is not being super crisp in their response, you can sort of move things around a little bit, just to make sure it’s concise.

Liz Robau  7:49  
I use it affirmatively a lot, actually, when people have incorporated a good quote from someone, or when what someone says just really draws out the point that they’re trying to make in the preceding paragraph. Sometimes I’ll use it if I feel like we’re just writing long blocks of texts. And one sentence that’s particularly a bit snappy, it could be made into a quote by a subject matter expert, but that’ll vary from piece to piece, whether it’s appropriate to quote someone or not.

Felicity Brand  8:25  
Another thing that I came across when I was new to open strategy partners, as a writer, with quotes, we work with a lot of non native English speakers, and sometimes a written quote, perhaps they’ve said it verbally, and that’s been then transcribed. It may not be grammatically correct. I thought the written version of that spoken word was sacrosanct, and you couldn’t, couldn’t edit that. However, I was made really comfortable knowing that it’s okay to edit a quote to make it grammatically correct. In some cases, some of our non native English speakers really welcome that. Because in a way, we’re making them look really articulate. Don’t be afraid to edit your quote, but do always do get the speaker to review it. They need to authorize what you’re saying they said. So that’s an important thing to remember with, quote,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  9:17  
as a writer, something that I learned a long time ago was that when I moved to technology, marketing, a lot of developers and technical people don’t trust the marketers. The marketers end up selling a lot of vaporware or or inaccuracies or what have you. I saw that it was because a lot of marketers were shy, or unwilling to admit their ignorance, or I don’t know, but they didn’t go to the technical people and ask them questions until they understood or until they got the point. When we’re preparing to read our articles. If we speak with our subject matter experts and ask enough questions, then we get the information that we need to convey in our posts and it’s a really powerful tool. So quoting is actually part of asking good questions. Listening and doing follow up questions for me. And that’s kind of part of the writing research process.

Christine Beuhler  10:06  
As a writer, when I’m using the, quote, editing code, I’m generally combing through a piece and looking for bits that I can pull out. For one just because, you know, we’re often working with pretty technical subject matter. When we’re quoting the experts directly, it not only helps the reader understand what we’re talking about, it also helps me understand what it is I’m writing about, especially with case study pieces,

Liz Robau  10:33  
or blog posts that are sourcing other’s comments, I like to use it fairly often, just because they let you use a bit more of a human voice. Like sometimes there’s a pretty straightforward blog or case study voice, and you get to incorporate something that sounds a little bit more like a person, which can be really nice to break it up.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  10:58  
With the quote, code, you can keep in mind that the writers and editors, we have a relationship with the reader, and the reader might be reading an article of ours for the first time, or they might be following us on whatever platform and under whatever name we’re writing, they might be following us for a long time. And we have to build up trust with them. If they’re going to choose to use our product, if they’re going to choose to learn something new, whatever it is that we’re trying to inform or convince them about. quoting a subject matter expert helps build trust with the reader. Well known person x, who’s an expert in technology, why says yes, indeed, this saves me three hours a day and lets me do something more interesting. That can be very powerful. If someone is an expert, if someone is well known if someone has the right and reason to be making these kinds of statements much more than me as the channel of their expertise, right when I’m writing, I am trying to channel the information from my clients or from us, to the readers that we’ve agreed this strategically, quote, builds credibility.

Christine Beuhler  12:07  
I think the quote editing code is important to readers because it just offers up some proof or some evidence, I think a lot of people get pretty turned off by communication, that’s too marketing he too much of a sales bent like people don’t really like to feel like they’re being sold something, a quote from a subject matter expert. It’s a little more objective, and it offers up proof that this isn’t like we’re not just hyping up whatever we’re talking about

Liz Robau  12:45  
readers like reading quotes, because it reminds them that there’s actual humans that have been involved in developing a certain argument or line of thought they like to know who’s giving them advice. So a quote will tell them like, Oh, this person who knows a lot about this subject says this, so it it lends some authority to whatever you’re reading.

Carl Richards  13:09  
I hope you leave this episode, and I quote, sharing more of what the subject matter expert has to say. How do you use quotes, share your examples or questions with us via Twitter at open underscore strategy, or email Hello at open strategy

Carl Richards  13:42  
This was one of the editorial codes we use at OSP. We’ll be sharing more of them as we go. If you’d like to learn more. In the meantime, come over to open strategy Have a look at our writer enablement workshops, case study offering or get in touch to talk about your strategy or product communication needs. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this podcast, all the peas that OSP thanks to our clients who believe in us. Shout out to Patrick golmaal for our high energy maple syrup flavored theme music and to Mike snow for additional horn arrangements. Thank you for listening and subscribing. About our three themes on the podcast. You’ll hear from different members of the OSP team hosting episodes over time, communicate all things communication. We share how we tackle writing, editing, word choices, formats, processes, and more. Connect in depth conversations with interesting smart people about who they are, what they do, and how they approach their life and work as communicators. technologists and leaders grow We cover strategic approaches to understanding and expressing the value of what you do, including tools, templates and practical applications. We also feel strongly about building a mindful, positive human first culture at work that’s bound to pop up from time to time to this podcast is us figuring out communication, connection, and growing together. Subscribe now on YouTube, Apple podcasts or the podcast channel of your choice. Follow us suggest guests and topics. Ask us questions on social media. We are at open underscore strategy on Twitter. Until next time, thanks for listening to communicate, connect, grow the OSP podcast!