Speak Up! How to Write an Effective Letter to the Editor
· Write your letter immediately. Timeliness is imperative.
· Make sure you have read the entire article before writing your letter. Include the title, date, and author in your letter, preferably in the first sentence.
· Start strong by using the pyramid style: Your most important fact/conclusion comes first; your least important comes last.
· Stay focused on the issue. Don't go off on tangents.
· Do not confuse a letter to the editor with an op-ed piece. Say it in 300 words or less.
· If you cite facts, always provide references. Do not play with numbers; editors will often fact check letters and any discrepancy will destroy your credibility.
· Avoid personal attacks. If you attack the writer, you will only gain an enemy. If you attack a third person, your letter could be libelous. Either way, your letter may not be published. Worse is that if you attack the editor, they could make it their mission to come after your profession and sling mud. It happens all the time.
· Never end with directives like "Think about it!" or "Shame on you!"
· Always include your name (even if you wish it withheld for publication), your address, and daytime and evening phone numbers.
· Never proof your own copy; it's hard to catch your own typos.
· Always follow the proper procedure for submitting letters to the editor.