I've already shared tips on hearing voices--the art of capturing another's voice for quotes or speeches. But any quote worth its salt also needs to go through these quick tests before you hit "send" or "print":
- Cut out the throat-clearing: "We here at the nation's largest nonprofit devoted to solving our terrible housing crisis know the mortgage crisis isn't over by a long shot" is not a quote. "We know the mortgage crisis isn't over by a long shot" is. Put the honorifics, throat-clearing and other Christmas-tree decorations elsewhere in your text (or in the recycling bin). That kind of polishing winds up looking like you put too much wax on the car.
- Look at the quote out of context: Right before you make it final, look at the quote with no other copy surrounding it. Can it stand on its own? Do you see something you didn't notice with all the surrounding text? Fix as needed.
- Read it out loud, like you mean it: If it doesn't flow out loud, it won't fly on paper. Quotes should sound like a real person said them. Anything else is throat-clearing.