The op-ed page of your local newspaper is an easy opportunity to influence the opinion of citizens in your community. It may also be the only place in your newspaper where readers can learn the truth about certain issues, but only if you write about the truth. Writing a letter to the editor is a fast and easy way to affect change in your community.
A rule of thumb for writing letters to the editor: Don’t stop at one. If you send a letter and it is not published, send another on a different topic. Keep sending a letter every month. Obviously, the editorial page has limited space so only so many letters can be printed. Don’t become discouraged if your first letter isn’t published. Just keep trying!
13 Tips to Make Your Message More Effective
- Be brief-no more than 200-300 typed words. Newspaper op-ed pages have word limits, so check for that if possible.
- Keep to the point.
- Mention “In response to” or “In reference to your article dated _____.”
- State your views in an organized way.
- Be informative, factual, and useful to readers.
- Be Timely-dealing with a specified current issue.
- Be Accurate and/or documented.
- Be Original — composed by you.*
- Be Polite.
- Write as a draft, proofread, and rewrite, if necessary.
- Type or handwritten legibly and neatly.
- Address correctly: a. Current date, b. Title of the person to whom you are sending the letter (Editor), c. Address of recipient.
- Always include your name, address and telephone number. (Most editors will phone you to verify your information before they publish your letter.)
* Many people ask The Family Foundation to provide the text of letters to be submitted to an editor or an elected official. It is our belief, however, that letters always have more impact when they are original to the writer. Talking points for many issues are available on our web site. Feel free to use information from those to assist in composing your letters.