In our last column, we explored different ways of incorporating quotes into legal writing. And although the whole point of quoting is to use another source’s exact words, there are times when we need to modify those words slightly for better fit or flow—while retaining key bits of phrasing. Generally, that’s fine. But, in doing so, we must follow two inviolable rules:

  1. We must make our alterations in a way that allows the reader to distinguish the original words from our changes.
  2. We must “ensure that the sense of the original [text] is not lost or misrepresented.”

So we have to be able to alter quotes effectively—without misleading our readers. This month’s column is all about omitting text from a quote; next time, we’ll explore ways to add or change the text to suit our sentences.

Joe Fore, Altering Quotations with Ellipses, 71 Virginia Lawyer 54 (June, 2022).