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East Greenwich High School Library: Letters to the Editor / Op-Ed

Letters to the Editor / Op-Ed Examples

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Format Guidelines

Writing a Letter to the Editor is a quick and easy way to let people know what you think about a certain issue. Short, concise letters are always more likely to be published than long, meandering ones; try to keep them under 150 words. The longer the letter, the more likely it will be edited. Keeping it short, and to the point will help ensure the message is heard.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when drafting a letter to your local newspaper. 

STICK TO A SINGLE SUBJECT. Deal with one issue per letter.
DON'T BE ABUSIVE. Editors tend to discard letters containing personal attacks. It’s fair to critique others ideas and views, but name calling will not be tolerated and won’t get you published. 
ORGANIZE YOUR POINTS LOGICALLY. Start with brief overview of the argument you are opposing, followed by stating your own position. Then present your evidence. Close with a short restatement of your position or a pithy comment. 

USE FACTS, FIGURES AND EXPERT TESTIMONY WHENEVER POSSIBLE.

Backing your argument up with facts will raise your letters above the he said, she said, category, always remember to double-check that your facts are accurate. Readers respect the opinions of people with special knowledge or expertise. Use expert testimony to bolster your argument. 
PROOFREAD. Look for errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Newspapers will usually edit to correct these mistakes, but your piece is more likely to be published if it is "clean" to begin with. Read your letter to a friend. 
CONSIDER WAITING A DAY TO SEND. Write, proofread and edit the piece. Then put it aside until the next day. Rereading your letter in a fresh light often helps you to spot errors in reasoning, or identify unnecessary content. On the other hand, don't let the letter sit too long and lose its timeliness. 
ADOPT THE READER'S PERSPECTIVE. Will the arguments make sense to someone without a special background on this issue? Did you use technical terms and language not familiar to the average reader? 
PROVIDE CONTACT INFORMATION. Always include your name, address, day-time phone number and signature. The papers won’t publish this information, but they may use it to verify that you wrote the letter. 
JUST DO IT! WRITE! Do not try to draft a perfect letter. Just give it your best effort and send it off. Don’t forget to always direct your correspondence to “Letters to the Editor” 

Taken from Advocates in Action from the American Diabetes Foundation: http://www.stopdiabetes.com/assets/files/advocacy-center/letters-to-the-editor-tips.pdf 

How to Write an Op-Ed:

MAKE THE LETTER PERSONAL,
NOT ACADEMIC
Including facts and statistics about your topic, but make sure you include a compelling story beyond the numbers. Feature important numbers, and then use language that makes the numbers “real” in terms of how the issue affects people.
DETERMINE THE
BEST "VOICE" FOR THE OP-ED
Are you writing this as an individual? Are you publishing it on behalf of a student organization you are a part of?
WRITE CONCISELY 500 to 800 words is the usual length, and you should the check op-ed length restrictions in
your school or local paper. Use short sentences and short paragraphs—usually no more than three short
sentences per paragraph.
CATCH READERS' ATTENTION Write a lead paragraph that will catch readers’ attention: Frame the issue-why this is important and why
your school should do this-within the first three paragraphs.
FORMAT Communicate your messages soon after framing the issue: One entire paragraph should be just your
messages. Repeat your messages at the end. Elaborate on these points, and always keep the reader engaged.
CITE COMPELLING EXAMPLES If possible, cite compelling examples or heart-tugging anecdotes: this helps readers connect to what
you are saying and also reinforces your position. Personal stories can move people and help them understand
why this is so important.

Taken from Advocates in Youth, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Ql4SVN3hpn0S_S2id0vYrrOPPYgZwfeM/view

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Need Evidence to Help Write Your Letter? Check out these Argumentative Writing Research Resources

Points of View Reference CenterProCon.orgAllSides.orgEBSCO