Tips for writing a letter.
The letters to the editor section of your local paper provides an ideal forum for sharing your opinion or story. In addition, it is one of the first pages many elected officials read. Letters point out issues of concern and provide excellent tools for education. Here are a few guidelines for getting your letter printed.
- Localize your letter. Explain how the issue at hand will affect you or people you know in your community. Include examples of how you or others have been or will be affected by the issue and/or proposed law.
- Make your letter timely. If the newspaper has recently printed a story or column about the issue, reference the article and use it as a springboard for your letter.
- Keep your letter short and to the point. Limit it to 250 words maximum.
- Be direct. Your letter should carry its most important message in the first paragraph. Include contact information. That means provide your name, address and daytime phone number. Editors like to call to confirm that the letter was actually written by the person whose name appears on it. (They will not publish this information.)
- Limit the number of points you make. Also, stay on the same subject.
Don't be disappointed if your letter does not get printed. Newspapers receive many letters every day and can't print all of them. Most papers won't print the same writers over and over again. Therefore, if you have had a letter published recently, try to get a friend or co-worker to sign the next one.
Don't be afraid to ask for action. Tell readers what you want them to do! Include what you want your elected representatives to do. You can be sure they read the letters to the editor.