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How to Write and Submit a Letter to the Editor

This fact sheet provides tips that will help you write a letter to the editor that is more likely to be published.

To join the Letter Writing Team, fill out the online volunteer form. Make sure you check "'I want to submit a letter to the editor." We will send you sample letters to the editor and information about where to submit your letter when we have an active letter writing campaign.

Writing a Letter to the Editor

Be brief
Letters should be no more than 250 words, and in general, shorter letters are more likely to end up in the paper. Short, focused letters are also less likely to be significantly edited.

Hang your letter on a news hook
Letters that address a specific event–legislation under consideration, a recent anti-choice commentary, a politician's statement, the anniversary of Roe, et cetera–are more likely to get printed. Editors give priority to letters that address timely events.

Make it controversial and personal
Use the sample letters to the editor as a guide but make sure you include your own story. Even a brief reference to your background–family, community, profession, life experience–can offer a unique take on an issue. It can also make your argument more appealing to editors and readers.

Check for errors
Do a spell-check before submitting your letter.

The only letters that will definitely not get printed are the ones you never write. The most important thing (and the hardest thing for many of us) is to find time to just sit down and write a letter.

Submitting a Letter to the Editor

Always include your name, address, and telephone number
Only a name and city will be published (occupations are generally included only if the information has direct relevance to the issue). Phone numbers are not published but are necessary for the paper to contact you to confirm your identity.

Send letters to your local paper and to the larger metro dailies
A good letter might be printed in both your local paper and one of the large metro dailies (i.e. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin State Journal). If you have the time, it's a good idea to tailor the message to the paper–e.g., mention local officials' positions in letters to the local paper. For a list of Wisconsin's newspapers by county, read Where to Submit Letters to the Editor.

Submitting a letter
Some newspapers have submission forms on their website that you can fill out and click send. Other newspapers ask you to email you letters. Most small newspapers don't have a website and require you to mail in your letter.

Watch the newspaper
Watch the newspapers to see if your letter is printed. If your letter is printed, share a copy with NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin. Send it to 122 State Street, Suite 308, Madison WI 53703 or and we will add it to the Choice in the News section of our website.

Don't be discouraged if your letter isn't published
On controversial subjects, letters are published in proportion to the number received. So even if yours isn't published, it may help to get another pro-choice letter in the paper.
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