April 08,2022

Writing A Letter
To The Editor

A Letter to the Editor (LTE) is a short opinion-oriented statement that you submit to your local newspaper or an online news source. LTEs should be fewer than 250 words, the shorter the better. If you can relate it to a recent story or current event, the likelihood of getting it published increases.

If there is a recent story in your local paper about pipelines, you have a great opportunity to make points near and dear to your heart and have other folks know and read them, while helping to affect public opinion.

Feel free to relate your letter to that story, that is the optimal strategy, but you can also go a little rogue and still get printed. You should not try to cover everything in your letter, but rather focus it on one to three points.

Go to your local paper’s website and do a quick search for “letters,” “opinions,” “editorials” or “letters to the editor” and you should find a page with either an in-the-browser form to submit your LTE or an email address to which you can send it.

We suggest your local paper, as they’re more likely to print local folks, but you can also consider some of the bigger publications that publish articles, and letters, from folks everywhere. These are publications like the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Houston Chronicle, and the Guardian US.

A follow-up phone call to your paper (ask for the editorial/opinion desk or editor) before or after submitting your LTE will greatly increase the likelihood that it gets published.

Quick Tips for Writing a Successful Letter to the Editor 

  1. Follow the Submission Guidelines and Keep it Simple—Your odds of publication are best if your letter is short and direct. Most LTEs are around two or three short, simple paragraphs. Guidelines are usually posted online under the newspaper’s opinion section. 
  2. Focus on One Key Point—Don’t deviate too much or you might lose your audience. 
  3. Your Letter Should Stand on its Own—if you’re responding to another letter or article, don’t assume readers have read them. Provide necessary background information as briefly as possible (i.e. “In the August 22nd article entitled Water Privatization Increases, the author stated that…”).
  4. Carefully Support Your Opinions with Evidence—Numbers, statistics, and cited facts will make your argument more persuasive. Just be careful not to overuse them, as they can get confusing. 
  5. Don’t Use Jargon—Using technical terms or acronyms (i.e. UNFCCC, CCS, decarbonization) can confuse readers.
  6. Include a Strong Closing—Leave readers with a clear understanding of your message by reiterating your main point at the end of the letter.
  7. Edit and Proofread Before Submitting—Give your letter a careful read for any spelling or grammar mistakes before you finalize and submit it. 
  8. Include Your Contact Information—Put your name, affiliation, and location at the bottom of your letter. Some papers also ask for address and contact information.