Tips on Writing a Letter to the Editor

A Letter to the Editor published in your local newspaper can be an effective means of sharing your opinion or promoting your cause to a community. Publications like to receive letters to the editor because they are typically well read. Most readers will at least check out what a letter is about, and if it is interesting and well written, they will read it.

The fact that an individual took the time to write and express his or her thoughts in such a public manner gives your letter an elevated status. Public officials and other community leaders will typically pay attention to a Letter to the Editor that deals with a subject with which they are involved or interested.

Some tips for getting your letter published:

  • Confirm any word count limits or other requirements of the publication to which you are sending a Letter to the Editor ahead of time. Most publications require a letter to be signed. One common reason a letter isn’t published is that it’s too long, and/or there is no contact info with it to allow the publication to contact the writer if there are questions.
  • Keep the letter to one subject. It’s difficult to make your case for more than one subject in the space available, much less keep a reader’s attention.
  • Keep the letter concise and to the point:
    1. Why is this issue a matter of public concern?
    2. What information can you offer to support your position?
    3. What do you think needs to be done?
    4. If appropriate, what’s your personal interest in or specific connection to this issue?
  • Check your letter before you send it for spelling and grammar issues and confirm that it is clear and to the point.
  • Sign your name as you are known, not with just initials or in some other way that would make it less likely that people would recognize you as the author of the letter. Be sure to include your mailing address, phone number and e-mail address. Many publications will contact you to confirm that you are really the author of the letter, or they may need to ask some question about the topic of your letter.
  • For the best service, e-mail the letter.  Most publications now show an e-mail contact on their editorial page and receiving a letter by e-mail means the publication doesn’t have to retype the letter into their system. That lessens the chance for a mistake and speeds up the process of getting your letter published. If you can’t email, type the letter, or at least be sure that the handwriting is easily readable.
  • Send your letter directly to The Editor in the manner that the publication outlines. Don’t copy a long list of other people and/or media outlets to which you are sending the same letter.  Others can read your letter once it’s in print. If you want to make sure your letter is seen by others, send copies to them after it’s printed.
  • Don’t send more than one letter at a time, and don’t send one more than once every month or two. Most publications want fresh opinions, not people who abuse the free community platform that a Letter to the Editor offers.