Writing a Letter to the Editor
Help Arthritis advocacy efforts by submitting a “Letter to the Editor” to your favorite magazine or newspaper.
Letters to the editor are published on the editorial page of a newspaper or other printed or digital communications vehicle. Writing a letter to the editor is an effective way to briefly respond to an article or editorial that was previously published or to provide your opinion on current events, such as new legislation or the actions of your elected officials. When you communicate your opinion in a well-written piece, you can help inform, and even influence, the public regarding issues that are important to you. This sample letter and tips can help you in drafting your own letter to the editor.
Do your homework
Check the publication’s website for guidelines on letters to the editor so you can make sure your letter meets any outlined requirements. Each media outlet will have its own word count requirement and submission procedures.
Keep it concise
Focus on just one major concept or idea and limit your letter to between 200 and 250 words.
Open with title reference
Note the title of the article or editorial you are responding to and when that piece was published. You can express your opinion, contribute to the discussion by offering more information or point out inaccuracies in an article.
Avoid making personal attacks
Instead of emphasizing that a reporter, editor, expert or other individual was wrong, use your letter as an opportunity to educate the community on the facts that support your position.
Keep it simple
Remember, not everyone will have read the piece you are responding to or be familiar with your topic. Keep your writing simple and avoid acronyms and complicated language.
Keep it relevant
Write and submit your letter as quickly as possible so that it’s still newsworthy. If it has been more than a week since the original article or column appeared, it is too late to submit your letter.
Make it relatable
Explain how your topic impacts your community and, if possible, include an example from your personal experience. Use your letter to tell your personal story and engage your audience.
Close with key takeaways
Make sure to close your letter by restating your position and making your argument clear. Include your name, address and phone number, as well as any relevant academic degrees to demonstrate your qualifications to the media outlet. If you are writing on behalf of an organization, be sure to include the name of that organization in your letter.
Have someone review your writing
Make sure your writing is clear and effective. If your op-ed is published, send a copy to your elected official’s office.
SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO ADVOCACY@ARTHRITIS.ORG
Advocate for What's Right
As an Arthritis Advocate, you’ll feel good about taking action to make health care more accessible. Help shift the policy and public perception that affects those living with arthritis.