Some important notes about Quotations, Attributions & Plagiarism


  • For guidelines on punctuating and formatting quotes, see an AP Stylebook


  • According to, "Plagiarism is an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author."
  • Plagiarism is a serious breech of journalism ethics.
  • How to avoid it - attribute everything to the original source, whether it is a statistic or something that someone said.

Attribution and Plagiarism

  • Reporters frequently ask about using material from other newspapers, magazines and publications. How much can they use?
  • Common practice among some reporters is to “lift quotes” from one publication and use them again in their own stories. It may be common, but it is lousy journalism. Several U.S. reporters have been fired for lifting quotes. Other publications may provide useful background, but material needs to be checked before using it.
  • If there is no better alternative to borrowing a quote, then it should be attributed to the original publication. For example: “I’m through with politics,” Mayor Brown told The Daily News.
  • If your interview was not conducted face-to-face (NOT RECOMMENDED), make sure you indicate how the interview was conducted. Example: John Smith said via email or John Smith said via phone.

Source: Lucinda S. Fleeson's Ten Steps to Investigative Journalism from the International Center for Journalists

Last modified: Saturday, April 29, 2017, 11:31 PM