Tips for Writing a Letter-to-the-Editor

Does the thought of writing a letter-to-the-editor make you nervous?

You’re not alone. It’s normal to feel a little nervous the first few times you attempt to express your viewpoint in writing. So here are a few tips to make the process easier!

Follow the guidelines.  Newspapers, including many school publications, have guidelines or rules–such as how long the letter can be, how to submit one, what’s required to verify you really wrote it, etc. Be sure to follow the rules, because a violation could be a one-way ticket to the trash!

Be concise. It’s best to stick to one topic and choose two or three of the most important points you’d like to make about that topic. Write with clear, to-the-point sentences that make it easy for everyone to understand your point. Remember–your goal is not to write fluffy, elaborate sentences to impress people; it’s to clearly communicate your faith-based perspective in a loving and winsome way.

Make it personal. People relate best to personal stories and examples that they can connect with… so if it’s appropriate, explain how the issue affects you personally or why you care.

Make it timely & relevant. It also helps if you can connect your letter to a recent event or topic of discussion in your school.

Use facts; don’t preach. Be sparing in your use of sentences that begin with “God says.” This isn’t usually the best way to persuade an audience that includes people from a wide variety of backgrounds, including nonreligious ones. It’s better to demonstrate why something is true–using facts and statistics and relevant examples–than to simply lecture or quote Scriptures that not everyone may be familiar with or understand out of context. An old newspaper saying is “show, not tell.”

Speak the truth in love. The focus of a letter that affirms biblical morality should be to change hearts, not mock or lecture the audience. Those who disagree with you need truth, yes. But they also need to see God’s love reflected in your words. So avoid sarcasm or put downs–write with a loving tone.

For more tips, read this article.


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