How to Write a Letter-to-the-Editor

A How-To Guide for Letters-to-the-Editor (LTEs)

A LTE is a way to communicate how you feel about a certain issue to a large audience.  LTEs are used to:

  • show support;
  • provide additional information that has not yet been presented;
  • make critiques; and/or
  • correct misinformation previously given on a current issue.

Writing a LTE

  1. Choose a topic you feel passionate about and that is relevant. LTEs are more likely to be published when they are related to an issue recently discussed in the publication you are writing to.
  2. Include why you are writing/what the LTE is in response to within the first few sentences.  Sometimes LTEs are shortened by the editor, so it is best to state your case early on.
  3. Be personal and factual. Explain how this issue relates to/affects you and state facts and/or statistics where appropriate. Keep in mind – stating too many statistics may make the LTE boring and/or confusing to read.
  4. Use short, concise sentences and avoid big words and phrases. LTEs should be easy to read for the average person.
  5. Be as positive as possible. If you’re writing in response to an opposing view, be critical without being overly negative. Suggest better alternatives to address the issue.
  6. Keep the LTE brief. Most papers specify a word limit (usually at 250-350 words). If the newspaper does not specify, try to keep the LTE to 250-350 words.
  7. Make sure the LTE is typed and proofread. LTEs that are easy to read and are free of spelling and grammatical errors are more likely to be published.
  8. Include your name, phone number and place of residence. Most newspapers will follow-up with you to verify that you were the one who wrote the letter. If you wish to be anonymous, clearly state that somewhere outside the body of the letter.
  9. Now it’s time to submit the LTE!  Most publications prefer you to submit via email, but you may also fax the LTE.  As a last resort, you may physically mail the LTE to the newspaper.
  10. Feel free to follow-up with the newspaper to confirm that they have received your letter.  Most newspapers will do this, but it doesn’t hurt for you to check.