Tips for Writing Letters to the Editor

Working with the news media has many aspects. However, writing letters to the editor and editorials for your local newspaper is something anyone can do and can definitely bring midwifery issues and the Midwives Model of Care to the attention of your community.


  • Be timely! Your Letter to the Editor is more likely to get published if it is about (or related to) something published very recently in that paper.

  • A Letter to the Editor can initiate a subject; it does not always have to be in response to an article or another letter. However, in general it is more likely to get published if there is at least a reference to something recently published in that paper.

  • Check with your paper for the recommended length for Letters to the Editor. Usually the limit is about 250 words. The paper might publish something longer, or if your letter is too long, they may edit it down to size. Generally it is preferable to submit the one YOU edited down! Also ask about the requirements for editorials.

  • Read letters and editorials in your target newspaper to get a feeling for the style and content that newspaper tends to publish.

  • The short length encourages sticking to one main point or argument, and doesn''t allow for too much detail – you really have to hone it down to the essentials for the point you want to make.

  • Write clear simple sentences; omit unnecessary words.

  • Make sure the message is straightforward and that each point is clear and supported.

  • Short or one-sentence paragraphs increase readability for the column format of most newspapers.

  • Find additional tips and more detail on the web. Visit the 20/20 Vision website. There you will find a “tool kit for Activists” that includes “Pursuing the Press” with excellent suggestions.

Copyright © Oct. 2004, Citizens for Midwifery, Athens, GA.
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