Tips on Writing Letters to the Editor
Letters to the editor are a great way to make your voice heard because they:
- reach a large audience.
- are often monitored by elected officials.
- can bring up information not addressed in a news article.
- create an impression of widespread support or opposition to an issue.
Keep it short and on one subject. Many newspapers have strict limits on the length of letters and have limited space to publish them. Keeping your letter brief will help assure that your important points are not cut out by the newspaper.
Humor helps. If you can present your points with humor, you’ll stand a better chance of being published.
Use spelling and grammar checking. If you’re using email or a computer word processing program to write your letter, run the spell and grammar checking tools.
Send letters to weekly community newspapers too. The smaller the newspaper’s circulation, the easier it is to get your letter printed.
Send letters individually to newspapers. If you want to reach more than one newspaper, send the letter individually. Some newspapers won’t publish a letter that they know has been sent to multiple outlets.
Be sure to include your contact information. Many newspapers will only print a letter to the editor after calling the author to verify his or her identity and address. Newspapers will not give out that information, and will usually only print your name and city should your letter be published.
Make references to the newspaper. While some papers print general commentary, many will only print letters that refer to a specific article. Here are some examples of easy ways to refer to articles in your opening sentence:
- I was disappointed to see that The Gazette’s March 10 editorial “School Vouchers Are a Bad Idea” omitted some of the key facts in the debate.
- I strongly disagree with (author’s name) narrow view on women’s reproductive rights. (“Name of Op-Ed,” date)
- I am deeply saddened to read that Congressman Doe is working to roll back affirmative action. (“Title of Article,” date)