Writing a Letter to the Editor

Who reads the paper? Your elected officials and your fellow concerned citizens! Getting your opinion published in your local paper can help shape the beliefs of others in your community and the actions of your elected leaders.

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How to write an effective letter to the editor in six simple steps:

  1. Follow the rules of the publication. Most papers limit letters to 250 words. Don’t go over your limit. Find links to the letters to the editor policies for many Oregon papers below, as well as instructions for how to submit your letter.
  2. Be concise. Choose one topic to focus on, and state your opinion clearly and briefly at the beginning of your letter, then use local examples, personal experience, or relevant facts to back it up.
  3. Keep it current. Write about something happening right now, or a topic the newspaper recently wrote about. If you’re responding to an article or editorial, mention it and the date it ran.
  4. Make a clear ask that offers a solution. What do you want the reader, the editor of the paper, or your elected leaders to do after they read your letter?
  5. Revise your letter and let it sit. If you used emotional language (words like stupid, dumb, ridiculous, silly, or expletives), take it out. When you can, wait a few hours after your write your letter, then read it again before you send it. Or, send it to a trusted friend for feedback.
  6. Send it in. Don’t let “the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Your letter does not need to be Pulitzer Prize-worthy to be effective. Take a deep breath, and press send!

Letter Submission Policies for Major Oregon Newspapers: