Saying what you want to say in 140 characters is tough — but there’s a way around the limiting character count.
Adding an image to a tweet will boost your chances of a retweet, and quotes help too. News outlets have figured out a way to meld the two components together by creating a downloadable image overlaid with a quote or fact. After downloading the image, you can easily attach the quote to Twitter or any other social media network.
NPR has its Quotable tool. Vox Media has a meme generator. BuzzFeed, Fusion, CNN, BBC and others have their own versions. Thanks to the easy-to-use and open-source tools listed below, you can add context beyond 140 characters to your tweets too.
While NPR’s Quotable is open source, you’ll need to know how to work with code in order to use it. The nice thing about Pixelcite is Groskopf has already done the heavy-lifting. Simply copy and paste the quote you want to use, attribute it and choose colors for the background and font. Pixelcite allows you to connect your Twitter account to immediately tweet the image out, and you can also download the image and attach it to a tweet later.
In the example below, IJNet used Pixelcite to share advice from our journalist of the month.
While reading an article, you might want to share a fact on Twitter but it’s more than 140 characters. Cliptext allows you to select the text and create an image to attach to your tweet. You can download Cliptext for your Android device or as a Google Chrome extension. If you don’t have an Android phone or prefer a different web browser, you can visit the Cliptext website to use the tool, but you’ll have to copy and paste words into the text field. Check out the tutorial below from the app’s creator, David Adamo Jr.
The NPR visuals team created Quotable to share snippets of interviews on social media since much of NPR’s content is audio-based. NPR and member stations can use the tool internally. The news outlet uses Quotable on its Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr feeds, though the social media team has found more success using the Tumblr-provided quote tool with the latter. If you have a knack for coding, take a look at NPR’s Github and try customizing Quotable for your news organization or your personal brand. Add a logo, change the font or play around with the color scheme. Find out more about when and how to use “quotables” by reading NPR’s tips.
Vox Media’s Meme Generator
Vox Media also has an open-source meme generator for media outlets — or anyone else — to utilize, if they have some coding skills. ProPublica uses Vox Media’s model to add pull quotes to images for tweets, and the UK’s Times and Sunday Times used the meme generator code to create their own social card tool called CardKit. Following Vox’s lead, CardKit is also open source.
Readers who want to quote part of a story only from Vox Media’s websites in their tweets can also use the tool by simply adding the text, choosing font and background colors, downloading the image and attaching it to a tweet. The media company has the same meme generator available for all seven of its websites.
— Vox (@voxdotcom) January 26, 2015
BeHappy.me Quote Generator
The BeHappy.me quote generator offers some of the same options as Pixelcite: You can enter a quote, add an author, change the color scheme and download the image to attach to a tweet or upload to Instagram. Unlike Pixelcite, BeHappy.me doesn’t include its logo on the finished product. It offers users a variety of font choices too, but be careful which ones you choose as a professional journalist. Avoid decorative fonts like “smile,” “romance” and “love.”
Be aware that when your tweet shows up in someone’s timeline, Twitter crops the photo in a specific way. (Your followers can only see the full quote if they click on the image.) Pixelcite already creates the perfect-sized image, which means none of your quote gets cut off through cropping. However, BeHappy.me’s images are shaped for Instagram. You should only use the tool if your quotes are short.
Have other suggestions on how to add quotes to tweets using images? Let us know @IJNet or leave a comment.
Ashley Nguyen (@smashleynguyen) runs the social media accounts for IJNet English, where this post originally appeared. IJNet helps professional, citizen and aspiring journalists find training, improve their skills and make connections. IJNet is produced by the International Center for Journalists in seven languages—Arabic, Chinese, English, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish — with a global team of professional editors. Subscribe to IJNet’s free, weekly newsletter. You can also follow IJNet on Twitter or like IJNet on Facebook.