How to Increase Engagement and Authority With Quotations

How to Increase Engagement and Authority With Quotations

Reader Comments (69)

  1. Always liked this one:

    “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” ~Albert Einstein

  2. Love the zen image for the post. I’ve noticed the quotes on Twitter and enjoy them very much. Here’s a favorite of mine, by science fiction writer William Gibson: “The future’s already here. It’s just not evenly distributed.”

  3. One of my all-time favorites has to be;

    “To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying ‘Amen’ to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to keep your soul alive.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

  4. Well, I don’t mean to make a case against you, Brian, but I agree with Emerson. When I read, I want to read the writer’s words, his or her own words, rather than the famous quotation they pull off from the quotation dictionary. When a post starts with a quotation, I usually just skip it and get to read the body of the article.

    Not that I don’t respect great quotations. I have my favorites, and occasionally share them in my posts — as part of my article. But I value authenticity more than great quotations.

    You, Brian, are no less than Picasso when you make your own points.

  5. Akemi, there are always exceptions that prove the rule. Just don’t forget that what you prefer is not always what your readers prefer.

  6. Akemi, you leave me puzzled. If you really were anti-quotations you would never use them yourself!

    If any of our writing was truly memorable, then it would become a quotation after all, but ‘All that glistens is not gold’ – Shakespeare

    Thanks Brian. Made a note of the sources and will try to use where applicable!

  7. I love quotes. Use them as touchstones.

    “Chop wood carry water.”

    “You can’t always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes you might find
    You get what you need”

    But here’s the most annoyingly, work making, sticky one running through my head right at the moment and all this weekend:

    “Build an asset, not a job. ” – Brian Clark.

  8. Brian,

    Don’t forget , which sometimes has things the others don’t.

    I’m a lifelong collector of great quotes. A few months ago I decided to start doing a quotation every Wednesday on my blog, related to small business and the business life. Here’s one that hasn’t made it to my pages yet (I’m saving it until I hit a magic number of readers that you passed long ago):

    Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world
    doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached
    only to the end of the bar.
    —Edward R. Murrow




  9. I want to say something. (Did you expect any less from me?)

    Quotations – the very act of using the symbol – automatically creates a bond with a reader. The reader knows that the minute he sees quotations, a living, breathing person said something. The text suddenly becomes alive, becomes more personal.

    I’ve noticed in some blogging jobs I do that adding dialogue (yes, quotes) instantly creates stickier content. People feel they’re learning something important, something intimate… they’re eavesdropping.

    WHO said it doesn’t matter. Hearing it through those quotation marks matters. It brings content alive.

    And if you select your quotes well, it makes you look extremely wise.

    Now for my favorite:

    “This too shall pass.”

  10. Since we’re talking about blogs and blogging, there is one thing that I’ve enjoyed and even wrote about on my blog.

    From Dosh-Dosh (and I really love this one):
    “Knowledge only becomes an asset when it is shared.”

    It’s basically the reason why I do what I do, all in one simple sentence. This quote is a piece of future history.

  11. I recently started a post about Maintaining an Organized Life with Thomas Edison’s quote:

    “. . . I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

    I like when writers start out with quotes to draw you in.

  12. Now I’m over my quota (hehe), having already put one in, but Debbie reminded me of another favorite:

    There ain’t no rules around here!
    We’re trying to accomplish something!
    —Thomas Edison



  13. from Albert Einstein, whom I quoted frequently when homeschooling my kids…

    I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.

  14. Finding relevant quotes and connecting them to relevant material is all about being a good “idea catcher” (a phrase I *caught* from David Allen’s GTD).

    PS – Brian, am I one of the two people? I think this was my first twitter-quote from an *authoritative* source:

    “You never succeed at boxing if you do it the wrong way.” – my 7 year old cousin, Natalie, on the trampoline.

  15. Wow, who knew? I love quotes so use them a lot on our website and had no idea this was a good thing when I did.

    You also caught my eye because of the quotes on twitter & then I read your blog and knew you were a must follow. 😉

    There are so many good quotes I love, but one of my favorites is this one because it reminds me of my style of life:

    “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

  16. …from Scotland’s Bard – Robert Burns:

    “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men Gang aft agley”

    too bloody true.

  17. I have a few, but today this one comes to my mind –

    “Most of us are just about as happy as we make up our minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln

    Oh btw..What a great way to invite people to follow you on twitter…I have seen a few blog posts on this very subject lately but this one beats the lot.

  18. @soultravelers3-that is my most favorite , used , taped anywhere I am, quote.
    @Sheryl- THANK YOU. I had not seen that one and am copying it now. Love it and…it is beyond true.
    @Kelly- thank you too for the Murrow, brilliant man.
    @Brian-Kelly’s quote kind of works with karaoke 🙂

    Sorry to comment twice on what is going to be another full bin of comments. So I’ll leave one more and be gone.

    From a West Texas friend of mine who used to tell me…” Be careful not to knock on trouble’s door, ’cause trouble would be home. “

  19. Brian,
    Couldn’t agree more. Good quotes can concisely add authority to almost any writing or speech.

    In fact, as research for my next book, I recently started a blog & mailing list dedicated specifically to sharing great quotes. simply offers one free quote a day delivered directly to your email inbox or feedreader.

    Like my books, the focus is on inspiring quotes that can help motivate entrepreneurs and small business owners to success. Many of the quotes I use were submitted by readers, including several of the great ones in the comments above.

    Here’s the quote I used to kick-off the list back in March:

    “A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”

    — Antoine de Saint-Exupery, poet and aviator

    Sorry for the promo but I had to share since this post (and the comments) was so on target.

    I have also added your great quote: “Build an asset, not a job.” to the list!

    More submissions are very welcome at quotes @ (We’ll include your name on any quotes we use, if you’d like .)

  20. I have to say that when scanning sites I don’t normally follow religiously, I will always stop to look at a quote, especially if its set away from the text, evaluate whether it reflects a subject I am interested in, and read on if it is.

    One of my favourite quotes is-
    “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live” – Henry David Thoreau

  21. “We do what we have to do to do what we want to do.“

    It’s a quote from The Great Debaters with Denzel I watched… I pondered it a lot and even wrote a whole post about it myself! 🙂 Good stuff!

  22. One of my pet peeves is when people use a quote, but do not quote its source. I find it nice to be able to find out more about the person who said something profound, and particularly the circumstances under which they said it – or the events leading up to that point.

    Nice article, thanks.

  23. A quote of my own, in fact.

    The state of the economy is inversely proportional to the quality of service at your favorite fast food restaurant.

  24. I love quotes. I find that it is especially appropriate to use for personal development blogs, such as mine. It helps add another voice to the topic.

    If you read newspaper reports, quotes are also taken off the ordinary person. What more if they came from one of a higher authority?

    Of course, add them only where relevant to the discussion. They create a greater impact this way!


  25. Brian,
    I understand. And that’s always a challenge to balance out — to figure out what the readers want and deliver it vs. to write what I want to write and seek the kind of readers who like it.
    I just wanted to point out that we, as writers, need to take pride in what we write. It seems to me that some writers like hiding behind “famous” quotes, and that doesn’t make interesting readings.

    I am not anti-quotations. I am anti thoughtless use of quotations. . .

  26. “Knowing what people are buying will make you a living. Knowing why they buy will make you wealthy.”
    ~ Stephen Pierce

  27. “Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love.” –Charlie Brown

    “A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.” –Friedrich Nietzsche

    “The energies and powers embodied in a tiny little child are more powerful than the newly discovered energy of the atom.” –Maria Montessori

    . . . and Michael Martine turned me on to this one:
    “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” –Carl Jung

  28. My favorite quote on writing:

    “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short, or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”–William Strunk, Jr.

    It’s a long quote, but to me, it sums up what good writing really is, and it’s a constant haunting voice in my ear as I write.

  29. I have so many favourites I could create my own quotes website 🙂

    But the one that always comes to mind is
    “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” – Bruce Lee

  30. A favorite quote!? As an avid collector of quotes, I wouldn’t know where to begin. ~_^ I’ve been quoting one of my blog’s comments recently tho’: “Let the naysayers naysay, I say.” — Lorna I’m glad to see quotes being given their due & hope you inspire yet more usage (but good usage ^_^). Your tweeted quotes are what prompted me to follow you on Twitter; thanx for the gifts in text!

    I use a quote to sign off on every post since the intention of my blog is to provide food for tho’t. I want to offer a takeaway as well as echo my words w/a known (or knowable – YAY for citing & links) source. While not necessarily using the quotes to pull the reader in, I am punctuating my point w/them. I also have what will become a monthly series of ‘Quotable’ posts written around themed quotes.

    (|_|*cheers*|_|) @coffeesister
    “A book of quotations can never be complete.” — Robert M. Hamilton

  31. Akemi – fair enough. Afraid it didn’t come across like that at first, but I can agree with your point, although I usually find inadequate writers don’t bother to use quotations! (That includes me now I think about it.)

    My personal bugbear is people who say ‘quotes’ instead of ‘quotations’. To quote is a verb while quotation is the noun … trying to be less a*nal about it but it’s like fingernails down a chalkboard to me. And that’s another thing that irritates – we can’t say ‘blackboard’ in UK schools anymore, but we can say whiteboard … Where are the producers of the ‘Grumpy Old Women’ TV show when they’re needed?!

  32. Hi Brian,

    Great points. I have to agree with you and James Chartrand that quotes can make a big impact in writing. But the quotee has to be really relevant to the subject matter and audience to make that impact.

    For example, in a customer case study, the customer’s actual comments are extremely powerful against the broader descriptive text. Or, quoting an analyst in a white paper likewise reinforces. Quotes stand out among the rest of the copy, while at the same time adding a punch of credibility.

    My favorite, at least lately, is something like, “Nothing worth doing is ever easy.”

  33. It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. ~ Ursula K. Le Guin

    The map is not the territory. ~ Alfred Korzbyski

    Water which is too pure has no fish. ~Ts’ai Ken T’an

    I’m astounded by people who want to “know” the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown. ~ Woody Allen

    When we built our website, I insisted on having quotations on every page. A good quotation is felt.

  34. One of my favs regarding luck….

    “The harder I work, the luckier I get” – Gary Player

  35. Fabulous post, Brian! One of my favorite quotes was introduced in the movie Coach Carter. It’s actually a poem by Marianne Williamson. I recommend reading the entire short inspirational poem. However, I’ve included two ‘quotes’ (beginning & ending) that inspire me.

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…”

    “…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    I also found a great plug-in “Quote Rotator” that I added to my wordpress blog. I’ve limited the number of quotes for now but have placed a few of my favorites to help inspire me and others to take action towards our dreams.

  36. Don’t forget my collection!

    My favorite quotation on the subject of quotations is from Dorothy Parker:
    “I might repeat to myself slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound – if I can remember any of the damn things.”

  37. “To know and not do is not to know.” – Lao Tzu

    This is so true for entrepreneurs that get caught in information overload but then do nothing with what they learn. Knowledge is not power, it’s the implementation of the knowledge that can create power.

  38. Favorite Quote Database –

    I found this site about 12 years ago when I first started college and needed quotations for a writing assignment. The collection is so extensive and easily searchable that I haven’t used anything else since!

    Favorite Quote: “No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized.” – Booker T. Washington

    Love this blog!

  39. Quotes can help you gain insight into a chapter you’re reading. I love a good quote. Sometimes it says just what I’m feeling in a way I’d never think to say.

    A favorite novelist of mine loves to use quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Unfortunately, rarely do I understand why she used the quote or what it was supposed to add to the story. And this is after reading more than 20 of her novels. She writes great stories even thought I don’t get the quotes she adds.

    The key is to make sure the quote adds value and doesn’t feel random or too subtle for the reader to understand why you added it. It needs to enhance the message just like you explained in your post.

    A recent favorite quote: “When a man comes to me for advice, I find out the kind of advice he wants – and I give it to him.” – Josh Billings

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