I'll make this short. I'm writing a personal profile for a news story and I'm looking for alternatives to this type of phrase:

"Apples", said Bob.

"Apples", Bob said.

"Apples", Bob explained.

This post looked promising, but it is geared -- like most of the articles on this Stack Exchange -- to fiction/creative/dialog writing styles, which doesn't work in the Journalistic context. Unfortunately, nobody actually answers the question, instead they seem to say "that's the wrong approach" and offer workaraounds:

alternatives to "he said" in dialog


  1. What is the technical term for phrases like "he said" or "said Bob" that appear in between when the writer chooses to split a quote?
  2. What are other options for splitting a quote or in-line attribution in a written news report?

Any help is appreciated.

1 Answer 1


"Bob Said" is an "attribution". It attributes the spoken words to a particular person.

Alternatives include...

an "introductory phrese" such as... "According to Bob, " or "Bob reported that " followed by the quote in its entirety.

an "introductory sentence" such as...
"During a recent interview with Bob, the expert had much to say on the subject of whatever we are reporting on." followed by several quotes. The reader is thus invited to believe that all subsequent statements are Bob's until another interviewee is introduced.

  • Thanks! So, to be even more precise, would these be called inline attributions, then, to distinguish from attributions one may put at the end, as in a blog post where sources may be cited as links, or footnotes? Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 12:16
  • 1
    I have not personally heard of the term "inline attribution", but if I encountered it in the context of some literary analysis, my first assumption about its meaning would match the distinction you have described. If you are concerned about propriety, I am not much help on this. But if you are concerned about clarity, you can always define the term during its first usage in your writing. Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 14:18
  • Ok. Thanks for your answer Henry! I would have liked to see multiple responses, but I guess maybe there aren't many journalists who are aware of this new beta Writing Stack Exchange. The terms attribution and 'introductory phrases` were very helpful. Since yours was the only answer, I marked it as correct. Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 9:43

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