We know that we can edit to correct spelling, grammar of questions and answer. But what about the portion in block quotes? Do we have the liberty of correcting grammar, punctuation or terminology in the quoted portion?

I ask this question because I have seen a few suggested edits which change the terminology used in quoted translation to emphasize something or adding a meaning in brackets. For example,

The girl said to the boy, "Au Revoir"

Now there is an edit suggested to this line giving meaning of this French word with an edit reason of adding translation to the key phrases

The girl said to the boy, "Au Revoir" (meaning Good Bye)

Another case is changing the translation like this.

So far I have rejected such suggested edits because what is quoted are not own words of the OP but some quoted translation of some author. I believe changing terminology from the originally used words in the quoted part is changing the intent of the author who originally wrote.

For example, there are many translations for many non English books. For instance, The Bible has a long list of English Bible translations and interpretations. Translator A might have interpreted and translated XYZ word as ABC. Now a user suggests an edit to change this ABC because the term used by translator A is not accurate and its interpretation is debatable.

Besides these, we see sometimes articles quoted in questions and answers also have minor grammatical errors. While correcting posts, is it right to correct grammar in articles too?

So, what should be the correct action if we see edits which alter the content which is not in the original? Should we approve or reject these changes?

  • 4
    Basically, you should never ever modify a direct quotation. There are some situations where modifications are allowed and indicated as such by use of square brackets, but if you feel the need to ask this question then you obviously don't know when and why. So, to keep it simple: never modify direct quotations. (And a translation should always indicate whether it too is a quotation from some other work and thus non-modifiable, or if it is the author's own translation.) (And in your example, adding the English translation may alter the author's intentions.)
    – AlexP
    Oct 3, 2019 at 15:40
  • Some also use [add-info] in the quote to correct/ add more info.
    – anki
    Oct 3, 2019 at 18:42

1 Answer 1


In general, edits should not be made to quotations. There are two exceptions:

  1. Edits that make the quotation a more accurate copy of the source. For example, if the quotation contains "teh" where the original contains "the", an edit to fix this is fine. If, however, the original source has "teh", it should be left alone, or marked as an error in the original by the use of "[sic]".
  2. Minor edits that make the meaning of the quotation clearer. Typically, these would be things like replacing pronouns with their referents (eg. "He said" -> "[Trump] said") or other adjustments to compensate for a quote being only a part of the original. These need to be set off in brackets to indicate that the quote has been changed.

There's a third case where quotes can be changed, but this should usually only be done by the author of the post:

  1. Adding emphasis (typically bold or italic) to call out a specific part of the quote. This should be indicated by a note such as "(my emphasis)" after the quote.

Other than this, edits to quotes aren't acceptable. Clarifying notes, for example, should be added after the quotation block.

Your example of changing a word because it has been translated from another language in multiple ways does not meet #1: the original author is quoting a specific translation, not the foreign-language original, and changing the word is equivalent to splicing together two different quotes.

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