Support Humanism | Action Center | Writing letters to the editor

Writing Letters To The Editor

Writing letters to the editor of your local or regional newspapers (or even national, for some issues) is an easy and effective way to inform your elected officials and the general public how important a particular issue is to your community and the nation.

"Letters" pages are one of the most highly read sections of newspapers and magazines. From the standpoint of Congressional offices, letters to the editor are impossible to overuse. For many public officials, press represents the overall buzz in the community.

The best way to use letters to the editor are to correct or interpret recently released facts or biased articles, to explain the connection between a news item and your issue of concern, or to praise or criticize a recent article or editorial.

Tips on writing letters to the editor:

Know the policy of the paper regarding publishing letters to the editor. Some papers have specific requirements about the length of letters, whether they are typed or handwritten, and will not publish a letter if you do not include your full name, address, and phone number (although your address and phone number would never be printed).

Be timely. A letter to the editor has the best chance of being printed if it is in response to a recent article, op-ed, or editorial (If the letter is a response, be sure to mention the name and date of the article in the first line of your letter.). You can also capitalize on recent news, events, or anniversaries. For example, the anniversary of an Act or other landmark legislation, the introduction of new related legislation, or the release of a new report that has implications on the issue provide good hooks for writing a letter to the editor.

Stay on message. Be sure your letters are concise, informative, and to the point. Focus on one subject. Keep the length to no more than three or four paragraphs. Make your first line short and compelling, and do not be afraid to be controversial.

Get personal. When it comes to local or regional publications, community is an especially big focus for newspapers. Editors often prefer, and thus print, letters that demonstrate local relevance. Also, by showing the importance of your message to local issues, it will likely have a greater impact on readers.

  • Use local statistics.
  • Use personal stories.
  • Use names of legislators or other public officials where relevant.
  • Use your credentials. If you have expertise in the area you are writing about, state it.

Follow up. Do not be discouraged if you letter is not printed. You can send a revised letter with a different angle at a later date.

American Humanist Association

Today is Ask an Atheist Day! Have a question about atheism, humanism, or non-bel...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Could we see an open Humanist in Congress in 2016? It seems Maryland Senator Jam...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week on The Humanist Hour #146: A Conversation with Lisa Montoya, Seminary...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Mother's Day is right around the corner! If you are shopping for that special la...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

The world's most and least religious countries.

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Shortly after we ensure that teachers won't pass out Bibles to their students at...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Robert Ray, President of Humanists of North Puget Sound, delivered a humanist in...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Don't miss Kelly Carlin, daughter of atheist comedian George Carlin, at AHA's 74...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

What should the humanist response to terrorism be? Clay Farris Naff has some pro...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Are you a high school or college student interested in joining us at our 74th an...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

"Let us give a toast to Christopher Hitchens on what would have been his 66th bi...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

After a letter from our Appignani Humanist Legal Center, a public school distric...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

It's time for another episode of the Cartoon History of Humanism!

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Thank Godfolk It’s Friday! Religious Funnies from around the World!

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Secular Coalition for America will hold its annual Lobby Day & Secular Summi...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, 52 percent of Americans support allowi...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

School nurse refuses care for kid who opted out of Pledge. AHA to the rescue!

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

What will the world's religious landscape look like in 2050?

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

The US ranked 16th overall for social progressiveness. Does that surprise you? W...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Don't miss sessions on humanism, science, community building, pre-conference wor...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Madison city council recently voted to add atheists to the list of protected...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

Is there room for difference of thought in the same church? Many think there is...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week on the Humanist Hour Podcast, Bo chats with graphic novelist, Sean Mic...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

APPLY TODAY! Become a professional advocate. Form a meaningful community. Build...

12 days ago

American Humanist Association

Come to Denver and hang out with all of our wonderful guests! Need to register?...

12 days ago

American Humanist Association

Public education varies around the world. Culture influences education more than...

12 days ago