Letter Writing Guidelines
Voting is a critical way to make our voices heard. But it’s not the only way. Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) can also be a powerful tool for speaking out about issues and values at the heart of the Democratic Party—things like the right to healthcare, equal pay, public education, and good government, to name just a few.
A letter to the editor might
- Raise awareness about an issue, policy, or bill
- Argue for or against an issue, policy, or bill
- Express an opinion about the actions (or inaction!) of representatives
- Respond to a published article or opinion piece
Before you write your letter
- Decide which publication(s) you want to submit to and check their guidelines.
- Read a few other LTEs to get a feel for what a particular source publishes
Your letter is more likely to be published if it is
- Short not more than 150-400 words depending on the publication
- Focused sticks to one or two key points
- Clear takes strong position and uses direct language
- Timely and relevant written in direct response to a recent event or a recent article, editorial, op-ed, or column printed by the target paper
- Personal demonstrates a personal stake or direct experience with the issue
A few other pro-tips to follow
- Include the name of your member of Congress, if relevant. Congress people tend to keep an eye on their mentions in the media, especially in local media.
- Fact check. Don’t take the word of a second-hand source. Whenever possible, go to the original source when sharing information.
- Proofread your work or, better yet, ask someone else to proofread it for you.
When submitting your letter
- Include your full name and contact information (address, phone number, and email)
- Just about all publications prefer emails instead of hard copy letters. Include your letter in the body of your message (not as an attachment).
- If you want to submit your letter to multiple publications, send a separate message to each outlet.
- Consider sending the letter to your state or U.S. legislator(s) as well. Most representatives have contact forms for email. Start with a statement such as: “LTE sent to (whatever newspaper you sent it to) today, xx/xx/xxxx” and copy the body of your letter into the space provided.
For more LTE dos and don’ts, visit Reclaim Democracy’s LTE tip page.