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Should I or can I edit my clients testimonials to make them more grammatically correct?

Am I allowed to use snippets of them, rather than the entire thing?

Or am I better not to edit them at all?

I would never change them drastically to make myself look better than they are making me out to be.

What are people's thoughts on this? Have you done it yourself?

This is more of an ethics based question.

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    As long as you don't alter the main point of the testimonial by changing it, taking a snippet or simply fix some grammar I'm sure it's fine. – user3244085 Dec 16 '16 at 16:53
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This answer is based upon my 20 years experience of having legal departments review testimonials and approve/refuse edits. I am not a lawyer though. Almost every piece I design has many, many testimonials and they almost always go through that company's legal department for review. So, while I'm not a lawyer myself, I've gotten familiar with what I can and can't do with respect to testimonials.


For testimonials, generally no, you should not edit when possible.

Testimonials are unlike other text. For legal reasons, what is reproduced must very closely resemble what was actually submitted.

You may also want to consider the fact that some grammatical errors and non-standard usage may actually lend to the credibility of the testimonials themselves. People, in general, don't write casually using absolute proper English. So, it's not absolutely necessary to stick to proper English when reproducing casual conversation.


  • You can swap unclear pronouns for proper nouns at times if the testimonial is unclear what the subject refers to. Customarily these changes are denoted by brackets within the text, a la...

"It has been great!" ----> "[Company] has been great!"

or

"He taught me alot!" ----> "[Joe] taught me alot" (yes grammatical error was left as is)


  • You can insert words if they are missing, again brackets are used to designate the insertion, a la....

"The savings have unbelievable!" ----> "The savings have [been] unbelievable!"


  • Misspellings can generally be corrected without the need to designate the change.

"The savigns have been unbeleivable!" --> "The savings have been unbelievable!"


  • Most grammatical errors should be left as is. Correcting a grammatical error is often more subjective based upon regional dialect and education level and can change the intent of the testimonial in some instances. Because of this, it is often best to leave grammatical errors as is.

  • You can truncate a testimonial, or only use part of what was submitted.

"My cat, Snowball, hates winter. She likes to play in the leave in Autumn though. This product was fantastic at reducing her hairballs!" --> "This product was fantastic at reducing hairballs!"

Removing innocuous, unimportant, unrelated bits is generally okay. but anything which directly refers to the company/product/service should generally be left as is.

You should be aware that some legal departments have had issues with overly "cherry-picking" testimonials. Don't eliminate actual testimonial text that may be less than "wonderful" for the product/service if it's then followed by something you do wish to include. The intent of the testimonial should often remain. Again, this can also lend to the credibility of the testimonial itself.


If you are overly concerned with an unintelligible testimonial, it's best to either not use that testimonial, or have a legal department review the changes you wish to make.

Testimonials are quotes and putting words into someone else's mouth can be haphazard and problematic. You should strive to leave things as they are quoted as much as possible. It is not unheard of for a someone to see their name being used as a testimonial and be unhappy with how the intent of their quote has been changed.

For example...

"I signed up for SubscriptionB last year. I hate this company! All they do is steal from me. I wish I knew they existed years ago. Then I'd have a benchmark to avoid!"

could be edited down to

"I signed up for Subscription B last year. I wish I knew [Company] existed years ago."

Which completely changes the intent of the quote... and can get you/the company into a lot of trouble.


In my world, for my clients, the clients have to retain the original testimonial letter/email/video/whatever for comparison. And I have worked with companies in the past where the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reviewed testimonials. So, when comparing the original quote to what was reproduced, it should always be clear that they are essentially the same quote and not overly edited to meet a sales goal.

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    I have to say, this is one of the most thought out, and well put answers I have read in any stack exchange community. You answered my question perfectly, hit the nail right on the head. Honestly cannot thank you enough! – harryparkdotio Dec 16 '16 at 13:38
  • Glad to help @Pipskweak – Scott Dec 16 '16 at 13:39
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    Do you have any reference for the legal status of testimonials? Besides general moral principles such as don't lie or twist someone's word, I'm wondering if there is any actual legal reference to the concept of a testimonial and what you can or can't do with them. – user3244085 Dec 16 '16 at 21:58
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    I'm not a lawyer. As I posted, I have worked with many legal departments all of which permitted/denied pretty much the same things. I'm afraid you'll need to ask an attorney (perhaps at law.stackexchange.com) if you want someone to cite legal statutes. – Scott Dec 16 '16 at 23:41
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I have worked as programmer a couple of years in a translation and copywriting studio and to make orthographic and grammatical corrections to any text, citation, speeches or quoting was mandatory. The guideline was that is totally unacceptable to produce any publishable text that contains such errors.

The story that someone can sue you because you did grammatical or orthographic correction (without changing the meaning) on any text is totally ridiculous, is a nonsense, is like if someone sue you because you take away some dirt from the road leaving it clean, or like if you fix a bug in a script.

I am having a hard time to believe that any honest competent lawyer will want to assist you wanting to sue another because he corrected your mispelled writing.

  • Note that my answer specifically states that correcting misspellings is "generally fine". – Scott Dec 17 '16 at 1:05
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    This is a really great response to my question, thanks! – harryparkdotio Dec 17 '16 at 1:25
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When I find really ugly texts or errors in the texts that the client gives to me, I always correct them (limited to my mother tongue) and then I inform the client that I made the corrections. Usually they are fine with it.

Even for testimonials, as long as you don't change the actual meaning and you only correct the typos or wrong verbs, it is fine, for three reasons:

  1. If you put testimonials name and surname along with the bad written phrases and typos, if you correct the text, it will be for their good reputation also, I think they will appreciate it, I guess.
  2. If I am in a website (or other media) and I read testimonials with clearly wrong grammar, ugly verbs and others what I think is: A) The company didn't pay enough attention to review typos; B) That company doesen't pay enough attention to what its webmaster is publishing on the site; C) That company's clients are ignorant.
  3. I don't want to be associated with these company's clients since they are ignorant clients and I am not :) But this is more a subconscius matter...

I also understand completely what Scott says that testimonials are people's direct quotes, but IMHO it is good to correct and properly format even the direct quotes, not changing anything of the exact meaning, in a global view of the good quality of the project, respecting the testimonials themselves, the company and the user experience.

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    Testimonials aren't just "text the client gives you" though. They are direct quotes, and for that reason, should not be edited if possible. – Scott Dec 16 '16 at 13:26
  • @Scott i completely understand your point of view, but I think that globally for the good quality of the work, it's good to finalize a work that doesen't present errors or typos even for testimonials. I added an edit to my original post explaining what I mean. – Mario Dec 16 '16 at 14:05
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    You're the professional... just because an uneducated client thinks "oh it's okay" doesn't mean it actually is okay. All it takes is one quote that causes litigation.... and attitudes will change rapidly. – Scott Dec 16 '16 at 14:18
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    @Scott I guess it is a cultural difference. Here in Europe if you go to a court to sue anyone because he changed a text like "this product are wondeful" with "this product is wonderful" in a website, they will kick you back home and not consider it at all worth of losing any time. About the downvote don't look at me, everyone gets downvotes with not much complain ;) – Mario Dec 16 '16 at 14:25
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    I think in Europe as well as the US the same applies: if you change a testimonial to twist words or flat out lie, you will be sued for lying or misrepresentation. These are general legal principles and have nothing to do with the specific status of a testimonial. I strongly doubt changing grammar or spelling mistakes would have any consequences as long as you don't influence the meaning or context of a testimonial. Legal departments are 'cover your ass just in case' departments, not exact reflections of what is or isn't legal. – user3244085 Dec 16 '16 at 22:03

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