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How to repost a blog post with style and grace

Since I first wrote about people stealing my content last November, “How to blog, write, and speak with integrity” I’ve gotten lots of contacts asking me how to properly repost or cite blog posts, web articles, and news stories.

Here are some tips for reposting internet content with style and grace.

  • Never repost an entire article without permission from the site owner. First, its a breach of etiquette. Second, nabbing someone’s content without their consent is theft of their intellectual property. Third, even if you link back, most agree that search engines will punish both domains for duplicate content. How do you get permission? You ask! Email the author or use their contact form or just leave a comment on the post. Most will, happily and free of charge offer you their content.
  • Use an excerpt of no more than two paragraphs. Chose the part of the article that reasonated with you the most or makes the point most clearly, and excerpt it. You can wrap the excerpt in the context of a point you are writing about or simply post the excerpt with a question or thought for discussion. Bloggers consider this a high compliment. And news agencies (and other sources very sensitive about their intellectual property) won’t be concerned that you are trying to gain traffic off of their content.
  • Set your excerpt apart graphically. For any quote of more than two sentences use the block quote feature of any blog editor. To make it even more clear that I’m quoting something, I like to italicize the whole piece.
  • Link directly to the source content. Typically, I link to the source two times just to be absolutely certain my readers know the excerpt is not mine and where to find the source. I set the the quote up (or follow-up) with linking the article to the authors name. “I was reading Adam McLane’s dare for pastors the other day…” Then, after I’ve posted the excerpt, I link to the source with the words “Source” or “Read the rest.
  • Hat tips and Trackbacks are still good manners. A hat tip is simply a gesture that another person provided the idea for your post or otherwise recognizing another person for contributing to your post. (ht to Adam McLane) A trackback alerts the blog owner that you’ve linked to them. On some sites, the trackback appears as a comment on the original post while on other sites it never appears publicly but is tracked by the owners site software. In WordPress, I manually enter a trackback for every link I put in a post to a news site or blog.

I hope these tips are useful. Each of these things only takes a few moments but makes a big difference in creating professional quality content. More importantly, to your readers it communicates that you aren’t a slob with other people’s intellectual property.

Have more questions about this topic? Leave a comment!

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30 Responses to How to repost a blog post with style and grace

  1. D. Scott Miller April 29, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    And, it have become more important for me and others to give credit from where we “lift/borrow” images and pictures. It’s just good courtesty. I’m not fuly consistent on that… but I’m getting better.

  2. adam mclane April 29, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Indeed. My own rule (‘cos I got served with a nice little lawsuit once) is to use Flickr for most of my pictures, just search for Creative Commons stuff and link back to it in the approved way. If you see something here that isn’t labeled CC, I probably made it. (Or it’s a common image)

    And, like you, I’m trying to get better at it… but I’m not perfect.

  3. Ashley April 29, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    my rule of thumb- always link. link and link.

  4. Adam April 29, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    I link as well, it is just so easy.

  5. Becky April 30, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    Good, good, good tips! And thanks for clearing up what ht to …. means because I understood what it meant, I just didn’t understand that it stood for “hat tip.” That’s cute.

    I’ve been using wylio.com to find pictures when I haven’t taken my own picture. It works with flikr, etc. and gives you the code to place the pic in your blog so that it has the copyright info on it. I don’t want to steal anyone’s picture and I don’t want anyone to steal mine!

  6. Jonas Knudsen April 30, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    Thanks Adam,
    Always appreciate your care for blogging integrity!

  7. eShopedia January 5, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Thanks for the lesson in etiquette about reposting someone’s blog on your own…

  8. barnabyjones January 14, 2012 at 8:22 am #

    This blogging virgin appreciates your educational article!  

  9. yoetama January 25, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    nice tips, happy to continue to learn from a better understanding as you.

  10. Shanna Snider March 23, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Thanks for the tips, Adam!  What are your thoughts on reposting photos?  Especially if they’re used as a link back to the original site?

    • Adam McLane March 23, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      You need to be careful with images. On a personal blog, you’re probably at virtually no risk for copyright problems, but it’s best to do your best to respect the copyright holders requests if they are available. Specifically, if you are making money from the site, it’d be best to be very careful. The best thing to do with a commercial site is to either use your own artwork or make sure you’ve properly licensed it from the copyright holder. (I use iStockphoto for most of my stuff like this)

      If I can’t create or take the image myself, I typically do a search for Creative Commons images on Flickr and make sure to link back to the source page. 

      There are some images that I’m more sloppy with, such as common images from promotional marketing, movie posters, stuff like that. 

      This is a pretty difficult thing to talk about since I’m not a lawyer or expert. But I just do my best to be above board with it. I’ve also had great success in just asking if it’s OK if I use the image. Generally, the copyright holder is happy to share and appreciates your attention and respect for their work. 

  11. azbooks April 6, 2012 at 8:10 am #

    Thanks for this, and the lesson in the proper way to cite!

  12. Mark Liederbach April 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Please add a +1 button, thank you!

    • Adam McLane April 11, 2012 at 8:48 am #

      I added the +1 button back. I can’t decide if Google+ is going to make it our not!

  13. Tri Haryadi May 27, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

    Wow, your tips is highly classified :). Nice.

  14. Scottacoulter.com June 24, 2012 at 2:40 am #

    Great tip. Just getting started and will use this in the future.

  15. lbwmarketing July 27, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Love this post. I will certainly apply these tips.

  16. Nicole Bernd December 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    I just wanted to say thank you for this post. I am also a new blogger, and your blog is incredibly helpful and informative <3

  17. Tayloe Marketing February 26, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    Question Adam: What about reposting your own blog across various sites: wordpress, tumblr, activerain, blogsphere, etc. Is there any harm in doing that, at least towards SEO? Thanks in advance!

  18. Justin May 10, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    Just got busted for this …. Unintentional but I am now fearing for my life from the other youth pastor bloggers… Great post and lesson

  19. ikalwewe October 21, 2013 at 2:26 am #

    You mean it’s bad to repost an entire article even if you credit the writer and link bank? Oh no :(

  20. realestategonesocial November 22, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Can I copy the content of an article and paste it into my blog? Of course I would credit the source and link back to the real article. Is this acceptable or should I just repost?

  21. lin April 24, 2014 at 3:04 am #

    although i really love to have that personal archive of content, full print so to skip the tab hopping.. it does not need to be said, the usefulness of knowing and linking a source =)

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