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Persuasive Writing Techniques: Pull-Quotes

Jul 16, 2008
Have you noticed, when reading magazines or newsletters, that excerpts from the article have been copied from the main body and put into a special box?

That's called a pull-quote, and it's a useful persuasive writing technique for anyone who writes -- and not just for magazine editors.

For example, I use them in one client's newsletters to break up the text. This newsletter has no graphics, such as photos or clip art, so the pull-quote is a simple, expedient way of making the page more inviting and more reader-friendly. But, it's more than a decorative addition in this case; it's also a useful persuasive writing technique because it increases the odds readers will find the article less intimidating (not such a high wall of text). That makes readers more likely to start reading, and once started, keep reading.

Let's dig a little deeper here: Most documents are structured so that the key request comes at the end. In a sales letter, that's where the offer is made. In a political brochure, that's where they'll ask for your vote. Generally, headlines should draw you into the first paragraph, the first paragraph should lead you into the second, and so on. And, at each stage, persuasive writing techniques make or bolster the argument. Theoretically, by the time you get to the end of document, all of a reader's questions or objections have been answered, and he or she does what the writer requests.

Getting back to my client's newsletter, I put a pull-quote on the front page. It's usually 15 to 25 words, and placed in a 2 inch wide box, horizontally centered about a third of the way down the page. It also has horizontal lines (technically, they're called rules) above and below the text. And, text from the main body of the article, in two columns, flows around it.

Another persuasive writing technique sees the pull-quote highlighting a key piece of information in the article, to tease readers into reading it. In this case, the pull-quote works like a headline, but in a more subtle way. Again, we're looking for ways to get the reader started, and once started, to keep reading.

Now, for most of your communication you likely won't use a page-layout program, which would allow you to create sophisticated pull-quotes like those in magazines and newsletters. But, you can highlight bits of text in various ways. For example, by using lines of equal signs above and below a piece of text you can...

====================

draw attention to the words between them.

====================

You can find more examples in text newsletters you receive by email. But remember, a little of this kind of formatting goes a long way, so don't overdo it.

In summary, a pull quote is a helpful persuasive writing technique, one that allows you break up long stretches of plain text, or allows you to highlight certain quotations. The eye is automatically drawn to pull quotes, and the mind follows, increasing chances the reader will read the rest of the page.
About the Author
Robert F. Abbott is also the author of 3 Easy Ways to Power Up Your Writing, a quick and easy writing course that gives you a focused set of three persuasive writing techniques
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