Writing a Letter to the Editor
Letters to the editor provide citizens with the opportunity to comment on articles and editorials appearing in newspapers.
Studies show that the letters to the editor section of newspapers is extremely popular, and is widely read by community leaders and elected officials to gauge public sentiment about current issues.
Following are some tips for writing a letter to the editor:
- Be timely. The paper must receive your letter as soon as possible after the article to which you are responding has run- ideally, within 2-3 days. Where possible, submit you letter via email.
- Type or write clearly. Include your name, address, and telephone number. Papers often call to verify authorship.
- Address your letters to the Letters Editors or Dear Editor. Check the letters page of the newspaper for the appropriate email, fax or mailing address as well as guidelines.
- Be brief and specific. State the purpose of your letter in the opening paragraph and stick to that topic. If your letter pertains to a specific article or editorial, identify it accordingly. Try to keep your letter under 125 words.
- Keep to the facts. Mentioning documented studies and statistics in your letter will enhance its effect, but don't overdo it. Don't make statements you can't back up with hard facts and avoid personal attacks and insults.
- Don't be discouraged if your letter is not published. Most publications receive more letters than they can print, and will often print one letter as a representative of others. Most important, keep trying! Unpublished letters are still read by the editors, and can help them determine which topics should receive more attention.