How to Write a Letter to the Editor

Whether you want to praise, criticize, vilify, or show off, make sure you're taken seriously by using discipline and clarity in your editorial letter. Change the world one letter at a time.

You will need

  • Accurate information
  • Research
  • Clarity of purpose
  • Internet access
  • Wit
  • Self-awareness
  • Local appeal
  • Respect
  • Rationality
  • Patience

Step 1 Identify subject Identify the article or subject with which you want to take issue, including dates for reference and fact checking. Include your address, phone number, and e-mail address in your letter’s header so that your piece has a chance of being published.

Step 2 Read examples Review newspaper editorial pages or online letters to pluck good ideas or emulate tone and style. Decide if you are praising someone’s actions, writing a complaint letter, or correcting bad information.

Step 3 Keep it short Write a brief, intelligent, and easy to understand composition of 150 words. Pick one specific reason the topic deserves discussion.

Step 4 Be witty Show your wit and be yourself, so that the reader is comfortable considering your argument. Find original ways to get the point across with your own fresh perspective.

Step 5 Keep audience in mind Write the letter only for this audience and publication rather than broadening your message for wider consumption. Local appeal is a significant factor in getting it in the paper.

Step 6 Propose solution Propose a respectful and rational resolution in the last paragraph. Invite the reader to support your cause without sounding like a salesman.

Step 7 Wait Wait before submitting another piece. Editors want their editorial letters to vary. If your letter is not printed within a couple weeks, send it to another paper. Keep trying to get your voice heard!