The Boston Globe published Friday what it said would be Patricia Smith's final column in its pages - an open apology, she wrote, for breaking "one of the cardinal sins of journalism: Thou shall not fabricate."

Smith, a finalist earlier this year for a Pulitzer Prize, resigned Thursday. She was asked to leave by the newspaper's editor, who said she admitted inventing people and quotes in four columns this year, the Globe reported.None of those columns was included in her Pulitzer application, she wrote in her final column, which ran under the headline "A note of apology."

"From time to time in my metro column, to create the desired impact or slam home a salient point, I attributed quotes to people who didn't exist," Smith wrote.

"I wanted the pieces to jolt, to be talked about, to leave the reader indelibly impressed. And sometimes, as a result of trying to do too much at once and cutting corners, they didn't. So I tweaked them to make sure they did. It didn't happen often, but it did happen. And if it had only happened once, that was one time too many."

Smith, 42, who also is well-known as a poet, could not be reached for comment Thursday. Her agent and attorney, John "Ike" Williams, confirmed her resignation.

Globe editors discovered the fabrications two weeks ago during a normal review that turned up quotations they found troubling.

"They were almost too perfect a fit," Managing Editor Gregory L. Moore said in a Globe article that ran alongside Smith's column.

Fabricated material apparently was found in an April 13 column, "A Little Girl's Rite of Passage," describing a young girl's "hair pressing."

Fabrications were also discovered in an April 20 column, "In The Long Run, Awe Is For Sale," about the Boston Marathon, and in an April 24 column, "It All Began With Betrayal," about Stephen Fagan, a father accused of kidnapping his two daughters.