Letters to the editor are very widely read in most newspapers, and they’re much easier to get published than op-eds. They’re also easier to write, as they’re much shorter (about a quarter of the length), so they’re a great way to get some practice in opinion-writing, or to make an impact without huge effort.

Here are some general tips to help you:

  • Get the length right. Some papers keep letters to 150 words; others will take up to 200 words. Check the publication’s guidelines. By sticking to the required length, you can avoid having your argument cut in half by an editor.
  • If you’re responding to a specific story or op-ed in the paper, or a recent event (all of which increase your chances of publication), be timely. In 3 or 4 days, it’ll be old news. 24 hours is ideal.
  • Start your letter by explicitly referring to the item you’re responding to, or to the relevant event or issue in the news.
  • Then get right to the point. Stay laser-focused on that point; you have very little space, so you can’t afford to stray.
  • Be conscious of the language you use and how it inherently frames the debate – even if you’re responding to something negative, try not to reinforce the opposition’s message by repeating it. Use our side’s framing.
  • Stay away from personal attacks. Insults may entertain, but good arguments persuade.
  • Recruit your friends and colleagues to send in letters as well. The more letters submitted on a topic, the better the chance of one of you getting published.

After you get published:

  • Spread the word! Share the link on social media and send the piece to your legislators as well.
  • Share your success with MIRA by emailing Laura Perras.


Good luck!