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Published on: News

How to Write a Letter to the Editor

published on: April 20, 2020

Letters to the Editor are a great way to address your community on topics that matter to you. Commonly called LTEs, your letters are published on the editorial page of your local paper. They are your forum for educating or entertaining your peers, and advocating for Florida’s land, water, climate, and democracy. If done well, they can make a real impact. Here are my top tips for writing an LTE:

  1. Get to the point. LTEs should focus on a specific point and include a call to action. What do you want your reader to know and what should they do about it?
  2. Keep it short and simple. Letters should be 150 – 200 words in length.
  3. Choose topics that are timely. It can be a new policy or program, news event, anniversary, or holiday. Framing your topic around current events adds context.
  4. While staying timely, submit your letter at least a week in advance of the event or occasion you are writing about.
  5. Stay local, bring it home. There’s so many unique ways to see state and national problems through a local lens and your perspective as a member of your community is important. 
  6. Personalize the issue. How did a specific event make you feel? What are the real-life ramifications of problems you’ve identified and addressed? Highlight your expertise or additional credibility in writing on a subject. 
  7. Keep it classy. To increase your chances of getting published and to avoid being too heavily edited, keep your language, clean, clear, and tasteful. You can and should use it as a tool to hold your elected officials accountable, but avoid personal attacks. Language should be polite but persuasive.
  8. Stick to the facts. The source of a statistic must be attributed within the letter. You can point to reputable sources. Pro tip: link to stories the paper has previously published. 
  9. Submit your LTE to your local newspaper digitally. Most will redirect you to a form which you can fill out fully. You can also email your letter to the newspaper. We recommend copy and pasting the letter into the body of an email and NOT as an attachment.
  10. When submitting your LTE, provide all information required, including address and phone number. While we understand your concern for your personal information, newspapers use the information only to confirm you are a member of the community you are writing to inform. 

Although topics like water quality, air pollution, and carbon emissions can get very data-heavy, good writing makes science digestible and inspires action. As a Conservation Voter, you advocate for Florida’s land, water, climate, and democracy; you have valuable advocacy insight to share with your friends, family, and neighbors. Have additional questions on how to write an LTE? Send me an email at [email protected] or comment below!