9 Quotations and direct speech

9.6 Epigraphs

In publishing, an epigraph is a short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or chapter. Publishers will have their own preferences for the layout of epigraphs. In Oxford’s academic books they are set in small type, verse epigraphs being treated much like displayed verse quotations and optically centred. A source may be placed on the line after the epigraph, ranged right on the epigraph’s measure:

To understand history the reader must always remember how small is the proportion of what is recorded to what actually took place.
Churchill, Marlborough

An epigraph’s source does not usually include full bibliographic details, or even a location within the work cited (though such information can be given in a note if it seems helpful). The date or circumstances of the epigraph, or the author’s dates, may be given if they are thought to be germane:

You will find it a very good practice always to verify your references, sir!
Martin Joseph Routh (1755–1854)

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New Hart's Rules


Preface Editorial team Proofreading marks Glossary of printing and publishing terms