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How to Write a Letter to the Editor

Writing a Letter to the Editor (LTE) is a great way to show elected officials what matters to their community. Submitting an LTE to your local newspaper is a great way to take action!

Brevity - Keep it short. Most newspapers allow 150-250 words for a letter submission. If want to check on the word count, visit the Contact page of a newspaper’s website and look for an LTE submission form.

If you’re looking to submit a longer guest column, that’s usually negotiable with the editor who manages the page in print or digital. You can also find the opinion page editor on most websites. If not, start with an editor and ask for the correct contact.

Contact information – Don’t forget to add your contact information (address, preferred phone number, and email). Some newspaper staffers may contact you directly to verify that you wrote the letter.

Timing – LTEs are about timing — what’s in the news at the moment. If you’re writing about an event months after it happened, it’s less likely your letter will be used because the topic is no longer in the news.

Quirks – There are some local quirks to editorial policies. One small newspaper does not allow submissions unless you drop them off in person and show a photo ID. Another will not allow multiple submissions from one writer per quarter. Larger papers sometimes insist on exclusivity, meaning you should submit to one newspaper only. Ask if you don’t know.

Edits – You may also be contacted by an editor who may wish to edit your letter, either by shortening it or asking for a longer, in-depth column. For a longer column, you may be asked for a headshot to accompany the column.

Submit – Submit your letter in the body of an email rather than as an attachment (if there is not an online form). Use a simple subject header, such as: "Please consider the following for an LTE on abortion legislation." Don’t forget to include your contact info!

Follow – Whether your LTE sees the light of day rests entirely with the editor. You will likely not receive a return response on the status of your letter. All you can do is watch for publication after you submit it.


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