How about: let’s give it a new job.
Pullquotes work differently online than in print.
In print a pullquote is a content merchandising tool, a kind of lure (hey, reader, look at me). It’s an ad for the article it represents. Meant for browsers and skimmers, the pullquote waves its flag at eyes flipping through a magazine quickly. Or it offers help for those looking at a printed newspaper, fully opened, trying to decide what to read next.
But the reading experience online is different. Most of the time when we encounter pullquotes they deliver a redundant payload:
This pullquote (1) presents an interesting claim, which the article then proceeds to repeat, almost verbatim, 42 words later (2).
So, kill the pullquote? Nope. Better: re-design its role.
Something more like a sub-hed and body text combined. The former marks the beginning of a section dedicated to a discrete topic; the latter is exposition, details, an idea’s fine print. Sub-heds are like an outline, planted at various points across the body of a document. Body text is the workhorse of prose, but does nothing to distinguish key points. It gives no help to a writer who wants to say to the reader: Look, this point I’m making here is especially important. (True, we have boldface, italics, and ALL CAPS, but none of these offer the typographical and spatial freedom that comes with a stylistic element that can stand alone in the text flow.) I call this new editorial element a “push quote.”
Pushquote. Noun, an interesting claim, worthy of the reader’s special attention.
It’s already starting to show up in the wild. For example:
Here it serves as a kind of memory-reinforcing claim.
They can also, quite literally, push in front of a reader a quote that’s worthy of their attention.
What do you think?