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What Is the Difference Between an Editorial & a Letter to the Editor?

by Jennifer Allman, Demand Media

    The desire to share our opinions or read that of others is a long-standing human trait. Both editorials and letters to the editor fulfill these desires by providing a public outlet for a professionally stated discussion or argument based on personal opinion or desire to evoke changed opinions and behaviors in the readers. While both types of letters primarily express personal opinions, there are several key differences between the two.

    Editorial

    While newspapers are tasked with providing the facts on a given topic, those who work for the paper do have opinions of their own on many topics. Editorials are unsigned, opinion-based articles that are written and agreed upon by the editors and business managers at the newspaper. Such commentaries should be considered the official opinion of that news source. These are professional pieces, usually no more than 500 words, that present an argument and use research to support their opinion.

    Letter to the Editor

    Unlike an editorial, a letter to the editor can be written by anyone who wants to share an opinion with others who read a particular newspaper. Usually kept to a maximum of 300 words, such letters can be written for a variety of reasons, including supporting, refuting or otherwise expressing an emotion about a current topic, influence public opinion, educate others, try to gain volunteers for a cause, or appeal to elected officials on a political issue.

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    About the Author

    Jen has been a professional writer since 2002 in the education nonprofit industry. Her work has been featured in the New Jersey SEEDS Annual Report, as well as several Centenary College publications, including "Centenary in the News" and the "Trustee Times." In 2009, Jen earned a Master of Arts degree in leadership and public administration from Centenary College.

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