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How to Write a Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: Tips

Letters to the editor are one of the most read sections of newspapers.  Published letters show that an issue is of concern to the community, and they serve as excellent tools for education. 

Advance Work

Know your paper
Make sure you know the specifics, as length and format requirements vary from paper to paper.  It is always beneficial to submit a short letter (200 words or fewer) that gets right to the point.

Know your audience
Familiarize yourself with the coverage and editorial position of the paper to which you are writing. Refute or support specific articles or editorials and address relevant facts that are ignored.

Make your letter timely
It is better to submit a letter that is directly related to a story or column recently printed.  Reference the article in your letter and use it as a springboard for your position.

Writing the Letter

Keep your letter brief
Newspapers and magazines generally have specific guidelines for letter submissions. 

Lead with your main point
Your letter should carry its most important message in the first sentence.

Localize your letter
Explain how the issue will affect you or people you know in your community.  Include examples.

Limit your scope
Try to make just one point, and stay on the same subject.

Support your facts
If the topic you address is controversial, consider including documentation or providing references and links to studies showing that what you say is correct. But don't overload the editors with too much info.

Ask for what you want
Don't be afraid to ask for action — tell readers what you want them to do.  This includes your elected representatives; you can be sure they read the letters to the editor. 

Include your contact information
Most editors require you to provide your name, address and daytime phone number.  Editors like to call to confirm that the letter was actually written by the person whose name appears on the letter.

After Submission

Monitor the paper for your letter
If your letter has not appeared within a week, follow up with a call to the editorial department of the newspaper.

Send us a copy
CFC would love to read your letter.  Please email us a copy of your letters (published and unpublished) to CFC.

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