How to write a letter to the editor
Open with a greeting:
Something as simple as ‘To The Editor’ will do; however if you know the editor’s name, use it — this may increase the possibility of your letter being read and published.
Spark the reader’s attention:
Your opening sentence will be vital for the success of your letter: it should immediately inform readers what you’re writing about, and entice them to keep reading. If you are writing in direct response to a previously published article, cite its date and title in the first sentence. If not, introduce your argument clearly, and go from there.
Following the opening, the structure of your letter should go something like this:
● Give a persuasive explanation of why the issue is important
● When possible, provide reputable evidence to substantiate claims
● State your opinion about what should be done/possible remedies to the issue
● Sign off with your name and contact details (these won’t be published, but the paper may use
this for follow up or verification)
And that’s it! You’ve written a Letter to the Editor! To make sure it’s worthy of publishing, however, keep in mind these quick tips:
● Short and sweet: As a rule, Letters to the Editor should be no more than 200 words, so keep this bite-size length in mind as you are writing. Another thing to remember is that many readers may not have the same knowledge or passion about the topic as you; so concise sentences are always best.
● Timely and relevant: If you are writing in response to a published article, your reply should be sent in no later than the next day. Otherwise it is, in the eyes of the editor, irrelevant. If your letter is more of an off-the-cuff, general opinion, try to somehow link it to related issues that have been in the news recently.
● Make it personal, but don’t: It is far more compelling to read an article about an important issue such as extreme weather or climate change if it is imbued with anecdotes and personal opinion — so don’t be afraid of sharing your passion and righteous anger. That being said, don’t attack the editor, the newspaper, or the authors — vicious letters are rarely published, and any impact they might have gets lost in the rage.
● Edit and proof: Whether you come back to your letter an hour or two later, or get a friend to read over it with fresh eyes, it’s important to proofread your letter before you send it in to avoid any silly mistakes.