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How to Write a Letter to the Editor of a Newspaper

by Patricia Hunt, Demand Media

    Two of our most precious liberties remain freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and both freedoms combine when you write a letter to a newspaper editor. Both print and on-line newspapers encourage readers to write to the editor, and the publications use the best submissions. Understand that editors receive many letters each day. You need to make your letter outstanding for publication.

    Items you will need

    • Newspaper's street address or email address
    Step 1

    Write your return address, flush left, about one inch from the top of the page. Skip four lines and add the date. Skip two more lines and enter the editor's name, title, newspaper name and then the address on separate lines. Skip two lines and then begin with your salutation of "To The Editor" or "Dear Mr." and then the person's name.

    Step 2

    Type "Dear Editor" near the top of the screen for an emailed letter. If you intend to email the letter to the newspaper website, you need not include your return address, date or the addressee's information since the website will request that you complete a form with your contact information.

    Step 3

    State clearly and simply the reason that prompted your letter. You may react to anything you read in the paper within the past couple of days or comment on how you believe the newspaper covered the story. You may want to state your opinion about an event or how the newspaper reported about it. You may also write to the editor about an oversight, such as a story that you wanted reported but went ignored.

    Step 4

    Compose the final paragraph, discussing what you believe will happen or what you want to happen. Keep both paragraphs short and focused because newspapers have limited space, and editing occurs for many letters accepted for publication.

    Step 5

    Skip two lines after the final paragraph and write your name, city and state. Letters to editors need no formal closing salutation such as "Yours truly" because of space constraints. You may choose to remain anonymous but understand that letters from unnamed writers do not interest editors as much as those by writers willing to reveal their identities.

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    Tips

    • Do not use profanity or resort to name-calling if you want your letter printed. Also do not threaten another person or institution with violence unless you want to gain the police's interest.
    • Do not write by hand unless you absolutely must. Typed letters remain easier to read.

    About the Author

    Patricia Hunt first found her voice as a fiction and nonfiction writer in 1974. An English teacher for over 27 years, Hunt's works have appeared in "The Alaska Quarterly Review," "The New Southern Literary Messenger" and "San Jose Studies." She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from American University and a doctorate in studies of America from the University of Maryland.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

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