10 Tips for Writing Letters to the Editor

When health care issues are in the news it's a great opportunity to make your voice heard in your local press. And what better way than a letter to the editor? Letters to the editor are a good way to get some press attention to your ideas. They also happen to be one of the most well-read pages in your local newspaper. Here's how to write a winning letter:

  1. Find out the newspaper's requirements  for submitting a letter. Instructions can usually be found at the bottom of the page where they are printed or on the newspaper's website. For Texas newspaper websites, visit the Texas page on Refdesk.
  2. Respond to timely events quickly. Newspapers are more likely to print a letter soon after the news happens, so watch for a good opportunity to tie your letter to something in the pages of the paper.
  3. Feel free to point out something you saw in that newspaper. If you comment on a specific story in the paper, mention the article's headline and date.
  4. Stay on point. Each letter should address only one issue and take a strong position.
  5. Shorter is better. Most papers want letters of 250 words or less, but most also prefer much shorter.
  6. Use the elevator speech format to construct the body of the letter.
  7. Careful how you email. Some papers don't open attachments, so send your letter in the body of the email.
  8. Include your contact information, such as your name, address, daytime and home phone numbers, etc., in case the paper needs this to verify authorship.
  9. Be patient. Some newspapers receive hundreds of letters each week. Don't give up if your first letter doesn't appear in print--just keep trying.
  10. Distribute your letter when it runs. Send published copies of your letter to public officials you wish would do something on your issue. Don't assume that lawmakers will see your piece in print. Be sure to send them copies of your printed piece as soon as possible, too.

Want to write a letter to the editor right away? Let us know!

Posted by: Christine Sinatra, Texans Care for Children

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