How to write a letter to the editor

Letter to Editor 101

Below will be key points to make letter to the editor writing quick, fun and easy!

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  • Put your full first and last name, address, phone and/or fax numbers (day and evening), and e-mail address at the top of the letter.  Most publications will want to call the writer to confirm that you are using your correct name – not a phony name – and that you did in fact write the letter.
  • Make it short and sweet. 300 words or less for most Letter to the editors.
  • If you are referring to a previously published letter, news story, or column, identify it by its headline and the date it was published (Re: Davenport grinds out a win, Aug. 17). This enables the editor to quickly check the original item to verify any references you have made to it (i.e. quotes, statistics, etc.)
  • Stay focused. Address just one issue or article per letter.
  • Be respectful. Even if you disagree with an issue, maintain a respectful tone instead of being angry or accusatory.
  • Be professional. Keep your tone formal and avoid slang or overly casual phrasing.
  • Be original. If you say exactly what everyone else is saying, then your letter won't get chosen. Find a way to put a new spin on an old issue.
  • Tell a story- Why should we accept the federal funds? (family member, neighbor affected)
  • Replace long words with short ones.
  • After you have written your letter, simply cut and paste it in an email. Most newspapers will not open attachments as they may contain viruses.
    • Minimum wage- do you have a story, know someone affected?

 

 

Letter to Editor - Defining your Message

By answering the following questions you will not only identify your stance on an issue but how you plan to resolve it.  Once you have thought through your issue and the message you are trying to get across write your letter.

 

1. What am I concerned about? What issue motivated me to sit down and write?

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2. Why do I care so much about this issue? What are my personal experiences, what is my story?

 

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3. How does this affect others in the community? Why should they care about this issue?

 

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4. What would you like your community members/local officials/state officials to do? What are solutions or actions that you would like to see happen?

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