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A letter to the editor can be a powerful way to educate the community on important issues, particularly when sent as part of a strategic campaign. Elected officials can also be influenced by letters newspapers have chosen for publication. Below are a few general suggestions for writing effective letters to the editor.

  • Keep it short. Letters with fewer than 200 words are less likely to be edited and more likely to be read. Only write about one specific topic.

  • Make it specific. Refer to the article you're responding to by name and author.

  • Get personal. Short, heartfelt statements and personal experiences are more powerful than legal arguments.

  • Send it early. Submit your letter at least 3-5 days in advance of when you hope to have the letter appear.

  • Cast a wide net. The smaller the newspaper’s circulation, the easier it is to get your letter printed.

  • Include your full name, address and telephone number. Newspapers will not publish anonymous letters.

Sample opening sentences of effective letters:
  • I was disappointed to that The Post’s May 18 editorial, “School Vouchers are Right On” omitted some of the key facts in the debate.

  • I strongly disagree with Jane Smith's narrow view on women’s reproductive rights. “Voice your choice,” June 1, 2012.

If your letter is published, send a copy to your elected officials so they can see what their constituents are writing and reading about. Be sure to include the name of the paper that published your letter and the date that it was published.

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