Writing a letter to the editor
Letters to the editor are the most widely read section of most newspapers. Getting your opinion out there can help educate the public as well as influence Legislators. You can download our letter template to get started and for training purposes.
Additional tips for getting your letter to the editor published:
- Keep it focused on one main point.
- 150 words or less (local newspaper often allow longer pieces – check the paper or website for unique guidelines.)
- Be conscious of the language you use and how it inherently frames the debate – use words that reflect well on your issue rather than using the opposition's terminology.
- Begin with something catchy: a strong opinion, a quote, etc.
- Include at least one new and interesting fact in the body.
- Close with a zinger.
- Submit your letter within 24 hours if possible.
- Stay away from personal attacks. Insults may entertain, but good arguments persuade.
- Recruit your friends and colleagues to send in letters as well--the more letters submitted on a topic, the better the chance of one of you getting published.
All things being equal, you have the best chances of getting published if you respond to an official editorial of the paper or an op-ed, second best chance by responding to another letter to the editor, third best if responding to an article or news piece, and least chance if you are just sending in a random opinion.
After you get published:
1. Congratulations! Make copies and send them to your Representative and/or Senator.
2. Recruit family, friends and colleagues to respond to your letter in order to keep the conversation alive and in the public eye.