Tips on Writing Effective Letters to the Editor

Do:

  • If possible respond directly either to breaking news or an article or commentary published in the previous two days (for dailies) or the previous issue of a weekly paper / magazine.
  • Focus on one main point (don’t try to address separate issues in one letter). Be sure to follow the guidelines and word count limit of the target publication. The links to newspapers below have instructions.
  • Create immediacy by indicating how readers will be affected by the issue you address when possible; try to balance criticism with a positive — ask readers for action when practical. This includes your elected representatives — by including their names in the letter and asking for action, you can get their attention.
  • E-mail your letter in the body of the email and put “Letter re: your topic or article name ” in the subject line. If you wish to copy others or submit to more than one publication, do so in a separate email. Include your address and daytime phone number for verification.
  • Pay attention to letters and comments by others. Note effective and ineffective approaches (especially letters that effectively argue a position you oppose), style, length, etc. This will help you improve rapidly.

Don’t:

  • Don’t overstate/exaggerate your points. One overstatement makes every following point suspect.
  • Don’t insult your opponents.
  • Never use all capital letters or bold text to emphasize a word. It will rarely be printed that way and may prevent your letter from being considered. You may italicize one or two words, but most papers will print it in plain text regardless — the words must speak for themselves. Use quotation marks to indicate the title of a book, article, etc.

Here are some helpful links to some of the bigger papers, but we also encourage you to submit to papers not on the list.  If your letter is published please let us know at info@texasvoterchoice.org.