Pull Quotes

by Ilene Strizver

Pull-quotes are a great way to add visual interest to a layout, especially when you have a lot of text to work with but few or no photographs or illustrations.

A pull-quote is a key phrase or quotation “pulled” from the text and used as a graphic element. Pull quotes are usually set larger than the body text and positioned to attract the reader’s attention.

Pull-quotes are commonly used in magazine and newspaper articles, annual reports, brochures, flyers, and direct mail pieces. Well-selected and well-placed pull quotes add much more than visual excitement: they can serve as a “hook” to catch and hold your reader’s interest, increasing readership and comprehension.

Which quote you pull, how you set it, and where you put it will all affect how successful your pull-quote will be at attracting the reader’s eye. Here are some guidelines for getting the most of out of the “which, how, and where” of pull-quotes.

1. Pull your quote wisely. The quote you select should be thought-provoking, engaging, and brief. Your writer, editor, or client can assist in selecting pull-quotes. They can also help edit long sentences into tight, provocative pull-quote versions.

(TIP: If the article uses direct quotations, these will most often provide compelling material for pull-quotes – but make sure that taking a quote out of context doesn’t distort the speaker’s meaning.)

2. Think contrast and emphasis. Remember, a pull-quote is display copy. It should offer a strong visual contrast to your body text and be able to catch the eye of a potential reader who’s skimming or flipping pages. Set pull-quotes in a larger point size than the body text, and use a different version of the text typeface (such as italics or boldface). Or try using a different typeface altogether for extra contrast .

You can set off your pull-quote with rules (double, triple, extra thick or scotch rules) and borders. A pull-quote can be set in reverse or color, or within a shaded box. As in all display copy, remember to use real quotation marks (the curly kind), and hang your punctuation for a crisp,
professional look.

(TIP: Oversized quotation marks in a different weight or color can frame your pull-quote and make a strong visual statement.)

3. Choose your position. Try placing a pull-quote above or below the body text, spanning multiple columns with body text wrapped around it, or in a blank column next to the main copy. A pull quote can also be used it as a subhead (or deck) beneath the headline.

(TIP: Pull-quotes should grab the reader’s attention, not play tug-o’-war with it. Limit pull-quotes to one to a page to keep your layout from becoming too busy.)


Editor’s Note: Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer and writer specializing in all aspects of typographic communication. Read more about typography in her latest literary effort, Type Rules!, published by North Light Books.