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Writing Op-Eds

"Op-Eds" get their name from their placement on the page opposite of the editorial page in modern newspapers. These are articles written expressing an author’s opinion. These essays are longer than a letter to the editor and allow for more opinion. The tips below will help you write an op-ed that you could submit to your local paper.

  • Know the paper’s style. Every paper has different expectations. The average is usually from about 400 to 750 words, but look at the op-eds in your local paper to see what is typical; don’t exceed that. Be careful to follow all requirements set by the newspaper.

  • Pull people in.  Op-eds should begin with a lead, similar to that of a feature piece in a newspaper, which grabs the reader and pulls him into the piece. You can be more stylistic in op-eds than in letters, but the language should remain straightforward. Offer statistics on the situation or present a personal narrative of someone facing that issue.
  • Keep it timely. If you are not addressing a specific article, editorial or letter that recently appeared in the newspaper, then tie the issue you want to write about to a recent event. Be careful that you don’t just give basic information; try to focus on the most current aspect of what is happening and the policies being debated.
  • Mention your elected officials. Always try to bring up your elected officials, praising or criticizing them for their action(s) and give specific steps that the official can take next.

  • It’s okay to provide lists. Many effective op-eds include lists of steps that the reader (or elected officials) should take. For example, well-known writer Nick Kristof often includes a list of steps that the president should take to stop the genocide.
  • Include your contact info.  Editors usually have to call you to confirm authorship, so don’t forget to include your phone number in your submission.
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If You Believe
If you believe…
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If you believe…
That too many of our children are immersed in a culture of violence and intolerance…

If you believe…
That education is unique in its ability to transform ignorance into respect for those who are different…

If you believe…
That prejudice and hatred can be overcome…

If you believe…then act!
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