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Letters to the Editor & Op-Eds

Letters to the editor and op-eds (opposite editorials) are both effective ways to inform readers about a particular topic and can be particularly influential in community papers. Written by members of the community instead of newspaper employees, these mediums can be used strategically to share opinionated articles with the public.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor are usually written in direct response to a previously published article or column in the newspaper. They can also be used as a reaction to an event. They must also be concise; most letters aren't longer than 250 words.

Tips for writing letters to the editor:

  • Respond quickly so your letter is timely and relevant to readers
  • Cite the article you are responding to
  • Check that you are following the paper's guidelines
  • Make your opinion clear and write from the heart


Op-eds tend to be longer than letters to the editor and are generally written about recent news whether there has been a previous article published or not. Authors of op-eds tend to be subject-matter experts, although papers will sometimes publish op-eds written by someone of the general public.

Tips for writing an op-ed:

  • Focus on one topic
  • Make your opinion clear from the beginning
  • Back up your argument with personal experiences
  • If you include statistics, only choose the most powerful
  • Check the target newspaper's length requirements before you submit your op-ed

No matter which opinion piece you choose to submit, be sure to include your contact information. The newspaper will likely contact you to confirm authorship if your piece is chosen to be printed. If your article isn't published, don't be discouraged! Remember that space is limited so not every piece can be shared.