Tips for Writing a Letter to the Editor

Letters to the editor are great advocacy tools. After you write letters to your elected officials, sending letters to the editor can achieve other advocacy goals 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 for or in opposition to an issue

Keep letters short and on one subject. Many newspapers have limits on the length of letters and have limited space to publish them. Keeping your letter brief will help prevent the newspaper from editing out your key points. Readers naturally gravitate toward shorter letters as well.

Short, heartfelt statements are often more powerful than lengthy legal arguments. Keep in mind that newspaper readers have varying levels of education and experience. Your letter must make sense to a wide range of people in order to be effective. If you have personal experience related to the issue you’re writing about, consider including it. Personal testimonies are very effective.

Send letters to weekly community newspapers, too. The smaller the newspaper’s circulation, the easier it is to get your letter printed.

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 that The Post’s May 18 editorial, “Title of Editorial,” 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 was pleased to see your article (“Title of Article,” date) regarding Brighton Township’s unfair restriction of political lawn signs and free speech.

Get the most from your letter by replying to dissenting views. Although many newspapers limit submissions to a certain number per person, most will allow letter writers to respond to criticism of their original letter. Take the opportunity to spread your message further by submitting a short response.

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