Write a Letter to the Editor

Submitting a letter to the editor of your local paper is a quick and easy way to educate members of your community about an issue. What’s more, your legislators pay close attention to the local papers in their district to keep track of their constituents’ views and concerns.

Your paper’s Opinion Page will likely have guidelines for submitting a letter. If not, call the editorial office and ask. Follow their procedures exactly. Be sure, when you sign the letter, to include your full name and contact information. Although the paper will only print the name of your town, the editors may need to contact you with questions or edits before the letter goes into print. After you mail your letter, call the editor of the letters page to find out if it was received and when it will be printed.

Here are some quick tips for writing an effective letter:

  • Keep your message clear, concise and on topic. Shorter letters get printed and clearly written letters get read.
  • State the problem and why you are concerned about it.
  • Include your personal story and provide details that make it more real for the reader. But avoid hyperbole and exaggeration. Stick to the facts.
  • State the solution, both generally and specifically. For example, “We must provide treatment summaries and follow-up care plans for cancer survivors to guide their future treatment. That’s why I support the Comprehensive Cancer Care Improvement Act.”
  • Wrap it up with a final statement of why this issue is so important. The more personal you make it, the more powerful.