How to Write an Op-ed

10 Ways to Get Your Letter to the Editor Published By Rob Eshman

The majority of editors strive to print a variety of well-argued and provocative opinions in their pages. That’s their job, and besides, printing letters and op-ed pieces they already agree with gets very boring. How can you get your letter to the editor published? These tips may help:



  1. Be concise. Reference the article or opinion you are responding to, make your point, support it and sign off. Follow journalistic style: a strong lead, short paragraph, no cliches, no fancy language. Pare it down and punch it up. The more editing you do, the less the editors will tamper with-and perhaps change-your letter.

  2. Your opinion counts. Your letter doesn’t. Newspapers have very limited space. A mass of letters expressing a single opinion signals the issue’s importance to an editor, but chances are the editor will not print more than one of the letters expressing that opinion.

  3. Be timely and relevant. Don’t wait a week to write. Don’t re-argue history unless it is relevant to your point. Letters should focus on items or issues that have appeared recently in the publication.

  4. Don’t repeat the points you dispute. This is your letter. Make your own points. The writer already made his, and space is limited.

  5. Don’t be nasty. Avoid ad hominem attacks, Dave Letterman style sarcasm (unless you’re Dave Letterman) or blanket criticism. Offer constructive criticism, and try to find the positive before launching into the negative.

  6. Follow the rules. Read the submissions guidelines. Stick to the word count. Enclose all relevant contact information. Send your letter the preferred way (fax, email, etc.) to the CORRECT editor.

  7. Follow up. if your letter or any letter like it, hasn’t appeared within three weeks of submission, send a brief follow-up email to the correct editor. IF your letter is rejected, you might find out why-and learn for the next time.

  8. Give thanks. If your letter appears, try a quick thank-you email or note to the editor (NOT a phone call). She chose your letter from among hundreds, and perhaps she’ll remember you for next time-for an op-ed piece.

  9. Hold your fire. Letters columns are not sweepstakes. Sending a letter each week doesn’t improve your chances of getting published. Sometimes, the opposite is true.

  10. Triple-check your letter. Before you send it off, proofread it, fact-check it, and perfect it.