Anatomy of a Push Quote

Or how to use quotes on the web to build better threads between ideas.

August 23, 2016

Earlier today I was reading Jeremy Keith’s latest post, Why do pull quotes exist on the web?, and I found myself nodding along. I enjoy the visual distinction that pull quotes offer from a design viewpoint, but their main purpose in print (to entice you to read an article while flipping pages) is less impactful on the web. I’m already reading the article when I see most pull quotes, so the repetition leads me to skip over them.

Then I thought about my own blog and about how I’ve used quotes there from time to time. And I discovered that I’m accidentally quite happy with my implementation because I rarely pull quotes from my own article. Instead, I’ve tried to intentionally pull quotes from other articles that illuminate what I’m talking about and build upon it. I then use that quote to link back to its source in a purposefully web-like fashion.

While discussing this on Twitter with a few others, a new name for these types of quotes came to me: Push Quotes.

So what is a Push Quote?

To me, it's a few separate elements:

  • A quote from a separate source (book, website, video, etc.)
  • That is related to the premise of the current article
  • With a credited source (preferably the author, or the publication name if no author is given)
  • And a link to the original source if one is still available

Here is an example from my blog:

An example of a push quote from my blog entry Wearing the Future

The web is built on threads of conversation, sharing, and iteration. I like push quotes, because they can help strengthen and interweave those threads, all while making articles more visually appealing. So while I agree with Jeremy that gratuitous pull quotes are “an example of unexamined assumptions,” I think I’ll keep using my push quotes when I can.

The pull quote is dead, long live the push quote!