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What CMOS says about changing or editing quotes . . .
The BIBLE of all things editing, The Chicago Manual of Style, says a lot about a lot of things, including using quotations in your books.
The answer is no; you can't change a quote. It needs to be just as the original author wrote it. However, just as with any 'rule' or style, there are always exceptions.
Quoting, word for word, from the CMOS Blog, they say the following:
"A good rule of thumb is that changes to quotations are not permitted, period. So much is at stake when we present the words of someone else, whether spoken or written, and responsibility lies with the quoter to render what was said accurately and in a fair context. The actual wording of the quotation must be reproduced exactly."
According to CMOS, there are a few things you can change as long as you do not alter the meaning of the quote. Like . . .
You can change the first letter to lowercase or uppercase letter if it fits with the sentence structure in which you are inserting the quote. You can also change double quotes to single quotes and vice versa. If there is a blatant misspelling in the quote, you can choose to fix it or use [sic] to indicate the error was not yours.
You cannot copy edit the quotation to make it consistent with the rest of the manuscript. If you do choose to make any change like this, you should include a note explaining it. However, it's best not to change it.
If the quote is something that was spoken, you can edit it according to style; however, if it is a previously transcribed quote, you should use the quote as it appeared in the original source.
To read the complete blog on CMOS Shop Talk to learn more, click HERE.
To read about quotations in The Chicago Manual of Style, go to the following sections: 13: Quotations and Dialogue, specifically starting at 13.7. About spoken quotes, go to 13.46. (If you are a subscriber to CMOS Online, click HERE.
Hope this helps! And be sure to ...
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