Tips for Effective Letters to the Editor (Citizen Action- Albany)

Citizen Action Tips for Letters to the Editor (Click for downloadable version in .docx)

Citizen Action Tips for Letters to the Editor (Click for downloadable pdf version)


Tips on Writing Letters to the Editor That Get Printed

  • Make your letter relevant and timely. Respond to a specific news article, editorial, op-ed or other feature in the paper. Agree with the editorial or op-ed, disagree with it, or comment on a news story. These things make it more likely to be printed.
  • Establish your connection to the topic and/or the community the paper serves. Generally, letters by local residents are more likely to be printed than letters from “outside experts.” If you can establish that you or someone you know has been directly affected by the issue being discussed (for example, a letter from a teacher on how an education policy affects his or her students), this increases the chance your letter will be printed.
  • Be short, clear and concise. Get to the point, stick to your main message, and make it easy to understand. Letters over 200 to 250 words are likely to be rejected or edited heavily. (See the paper’s specific guidelines as to the recommended length of letters.)
  • Type or e-mail your letter and follow the newspaper’s own written guidelines for letters. Papers don’t generally accept handwritten letters. Go to the website of the local paper to find the email address to send your letter to the editor to; it is usually in the “contact” or “opinion” section of the site.


  • Submit only original letters. Papers virtually never accept letters than have been submitted to more than one paper, or that are based on or similar to “template” letters “ghostwritten” by organizations.
  • Include your name, address and daytime phone number. The editor will typically only print your name and town, but they will need to verify that you wrote the letter, so they will generally call you if they are considering running your letter in the paper.
  • Don’t be mean or engage in personal attacks. Letters that are hostile or which seem to be trying to settle personal scores won’t be published.
  • Make it your opinion. Essentially say, “this is what I think of this.” Just giving information or loading your letter with facts or statistics is not what the editorial page is about. But, if you are including any facts and figures, don’t get them wrong.
For further information, please contact:

Citizen Action of New York

94 Central Ave., Albany, NY 12206; 518-465-4600 x104




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