How to Use Quotes in Your Book

Using quotes to break up content or provide inspiration is a great idea! Here's how you can use quotes legally in your work, and what to avoid...

You DO need permission to use:

  • Song lyrics or poems.
    • Exception: If you’re quoting a song from before 1923 you don’t need permission. All works before then are in the public domain.
    • Hymns that are in the public domain fall under fair use. Not ALL hymns are free to use, though, so be sure to check.
  • Art and photography that is copyrighted.
  • Quotes from famous people if used as a book title or more than a sentence or two.
  • Quotes from "new" versions of the Bible published after 1923.

You DON’T need permission:

  • To quote books or other works published before 1923
  • To quote news stories
  • To quote scientific studies
  • Recipes (but to play it safe, please reference this article from attorney Sara F. Hawkins.)
  • To quote scriptures from Bibles published before 1923

Shorter quotes, references and paraphrasing with proper reference is usually ok without permission. Copying large amounts of text is not. Best practice is to use photos or images that are public domain, licensed creative commons, stock images, or belong to you, and to get permission to use quotes (and to give proper attribution).