Writing an Effective Letter to the Editor

Speak Up! How to Write an Effective Letter to the Editor

  • Write your letter immediately. Timeliness is imperative.
  • Make sure you have read the entire article before writing your letter. Include the title, date and author in your letter, preferably in the first sentence.
  • Start strong by using the pyramid style: Your most important fact/conclusion comes first, your least important comes last.
  • Stay focused on the issue. Don't go off on tangents.
  • Do not confuse a letter to the editor with an op-ed piece. Say it in 300 words or less.
  • If you cite facts, always provide references. Do not play with numbers; editors will often fact check letters and any discrepancy will destroy your credibility.
  • Avoid personal attacks. If you attack the writer, you will only amuse. If you attack a third person, your letter could be libelous. Either way, your letter may not be published.
  • Never end with directives like "Think about it!" or "Shame on you!"
  • Always include your name, even if you wish it withheld for publication, your address and daytime and evening phone numbers.
  • Never proof your own copy; it's hard to catch your own typos.
  • Always follow the proper procedure for submitting letters to the editor.