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Credit sources fairly in your financial blog posts

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IntegrityYou want to do the right thing when you find an interesting idea, statistic, or quote that you use on your blog. That means crediting your source. How much information must you provide?

Citation rules for blogs aren’t as clear as for books, where sources such as The Chicago Manual of Style lay out rules. I’ve developed suggestions for you based on my experience, Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes: Your Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, and other resources.


1. Figure out if you’re entitled to quote the material.

Copyright and the concept of “fair use” govern your rights. The guidelines are murky. One key idea is that if you use the “heart” of the work, you’re in trouble, as explained in the “Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Used” on the University of Minnesota’s “Copyright Information and Resources” page. 

You’ll find more “fair use” tips and resources in “Legal danger for financial bloggers: Two misconceptions, three resources, one suggestion.” Some sources may have their own guidelines, as discussed in “Are you crediting your OECD data properly?

In another example, Hubspot asks that you limit quotes on your website to “no more than 75 words. This is to prevent duplicate content issues that would impact both our own organic search rankings and the other website’s,” according to Corey Eridon’s “How to Cite Sources & Not Steal People’s Content on the Internet.”

2. Name and link to your source

At a minimum, you should name the publication or resource that’s the source of your information, whether it’s a blog, newspaper, conference presentation, or something else. Some people minimize the information, saying something like “according to The New York Times.”

I like to go further than that, naming the article and, possibly, the author.

3. Link to the source.

It’s courtesy to link to the source you’re crediting, assuming it’s available online. If your compliance professionals are uneasy about links, then make sure you follow the advice in my next tip.

4. Provide enough information for your readers to find the source on their own

I’ve struggled with how much information to put in a citation. Then I read the suggestion in Everybody Writes that you should provide “enough information about the author and the work that someone could easily find it if the original link breaks.” Ann Handley made this suggestion in Everybody Writes’ chapter on content curation, “Curate Ethically.” I think it should apply to citations in blog posts in addition to content curation. 

Handley also warns readers against linking to other people’s content using nofollow links—links that deprive the author of the linked material of a boost to their search ranking. I agree. It isn’t fair. 

Providing enough information might mean giving a link to “Susan Weiner’s post, ‘How a blogging buddy can help your financial planning or investment blog’” instead of “Susan Weiner’s blog.”

Strike the right balance in giving credit to your sources!

A smart, fair strategy will boost your credibility. 

-Susan Weiner, CFA, is the author of Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients, which is tailored to financial planners, wealth managers, investment managers, and the marketing and communications staff that supports them.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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