Making Our Voices Heard: Writing Letters to the Editor and Op-Ed

Contributed by Deb Kline.

Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds are additional ways to reach a broader audience. There is a difference between the two, however, and writers need to be aware of the difference and parameters set by each publication to increase the chances of having the letter picked up. Here are a few general guidelines, followed by specific media contacts and recommendations. Note that this is not an exhaustive list. 

What’s the Difference?

  • Letter to the editor: Short, often in response to a recent article in the publication.
  • Op-ed or guest column: A little longer, expressing an opinion or viewpoint on a timely topic.

General Tips: 

  • Brief: Stay within the word limit and follow all submission guidelines. Most letters are about 200 words, and op-eds are about 600 to 800 words.
  • Timely: Start by connecting the issue with current events.
  • Personal: Share a story about how the issue affects you and those around you.
  • Focused and clear: Choose one central idea and stick to it. Use simple language and sentences, avoid jargon.
  • Fact-based: Should go without saying, but referencing sources for facts and claims increases your credibility
  • Unifying: Think about the views of people who might disagree with you. Look for and highlight common ground.
  • Persuasive: Make it clear why the reader should care about the issue, and provide evidence. Consider potential counterarguments, and briefly acknowledge and refute them. Here’s a great place to use the Truth Sandwich mentioned in the previous article.
  • Actionable: End your letter with a call to action

New Jersey

Major NY Media

  • NY Times 
  • Letters to the Editor:
  • Op-Ed: To Editorial Page Editor

GuidanceWe encourage a diversity of voices and views in our letters. Letters should preferably be 150 to 175 words, should refer to an article that has appeared within the last seven days, and must include the writer’s address and phone number. No attachments, please. Letters should be exclusive to The New York Times or The International New York Times. We do not publish open letters or third-party letters.Editors’ Note; The Letters Editor and the Reader: Our Compact, Updated

Guidance: The letter must be exclusive to the WSJ, must be a response to an article in the Journal (or else it’s considered an op-ed), must feature a strong argument about an issue, lack jargon or industry-specific terms so everyone can understand the content and must be between 400 and 1,000 words long.


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