Letter to the Editor Guidelines

Have a strong feeling about something you read?  Write a letter to the editor.  Letters exist to provide a forum for public comment or debate.  A letter to the editor is meant to express your opinion or point of view about an article you have read from a news organization or website.

How to send StudentNewsDaily a Letter to the Editor:

E-mail:  editor@studentnewsdaily.com

Include:  your full name, school name & state, the headline & date of the article on which you are commenting

Letters may be edited for length, grammar and accuracy. (See additional guidelines below.)

To send a letter to the editor of any online news organization, the email address for the Letters Editor can generally be found under “Contact Us” at the bottom of the home page.

GUIDELINES FOR LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

  • Be TIMELY:  Write your letter within a day of the article’s date. (Letters to StudentNewsDaily will be accepted up to a month after posting.)
  • INCLUDE CONTACT INFORMATION:  Include your full name, city, state, phone # (many news organizations will call you to verify you really wrote the letter – most will not print anonymous letters).
  • BE CLEAR:  Make one main point.
  • BE CONCISE:  1- 3 paragraphs, 50-150 words. Short letters show confidence in your position.
  • BE ACCURATE:  Letters that are factually inaccurate are not printed.
  • BE INTERESTING:  Get your reader’s attention and keep it to the end of your letter. Open with an interesting fact or strong statement and keep your points as interesting as possible.
  • AVOID PERSONAL ATTACKS:  Show respect for the opposite opinion. Being rude may cause people to disagree with you on principle.
  • PROOFREAD:  Re-read your letter. Check for grammar and spelling mistakes. If possible, ask another person to read your letter for accuracy and clarity.
  • DON’T WORRY IF YOUR LETTER IS NOT PRINTED:  Even if it is well-written, it might not be printed if it addresses the same issue as letters already printed.

In your email, use the following format:

HEADING
To the Editor:  (If writing directly to the writer, substitute Dear Mr./Ms. ___)
Re: “headline” and date of article

BODY
1-3 paragraphs

CLOSING
Your full name
City, state
Your phone # (Only if requested by news organization)

SAMPLES:

Read several letters from the site you are writing to for an idea of the types of letters that the editors print.

Sample letter from the Dallas Morning News:

Re: “For Ebola, Obama abandons usual wait-and-see approach – President cleared schedule, named czar in response,” Monday news story.

The surgeon general of the U.S. is the operational head of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and thus the leading spokesman on matters of public health in the federal government of the United States.

So would someone explain to me why Rear Adm. Boris D. Lushniak, acting surgeon general, is not the White House point man for Ebola? Is it because President Obama has no confidence in him or feels the acting surgeon general and staff aren’t qualified to coordinate between the various federal public health departments and agencies, NIH, CDC, etc., and speak for the White House?

Apparently, Obama believes we need an “Ebola czar” to speak for him. For some reason appointing Ron Klain as the czar reeks of political favoritism and pandering to the Democratic base and is not in the public’s health interests.

John E., Wilmer, TX

Sample letter from The Denver Post:

Re: “Proposed Colorado marijuana edibles ban shows lingering pot discord”

It seems hard to believe that many forms of edible marijuana are made to look like candy and treats that children often eat, yet the public is supposed to believe that the marijuana industry isn’t marketing to the youth. It has been reported that nine children have been treated at local hospitals after ingesting marijuana edibles. Further, one college student jumped off of a balcony after eating a cookie that contained marijuana. Now, parents are being warned more than ever before to check their children’s Halloween candy, suggesting that if they see anything that looks unfamiliar or strange, it could be a form of edible marijuana and should be thrown out. For these reasons and for the health and safety of all youth in Colorado, banning edible marijuana seems like the clear choice.

MC, Lakewood, CO

NOTE ON POSTING COMMENTS (vs. writing a letter to the editor):

  • Online editions of many newspapers, in addition to inviting readers to write “letters to the editor,” also allow readers to post comments directly below articles.
  • News websites that only have an online presence (e.g., YahooNews) generally don’t include a “Letters to the Editor” section.  Instead, most allow readers to sign up to post comments directly below the article.
  • People are for the most part permitted to comment anonymously.
  • “Comments” differ from “letters to the editor” in that there are no specific guidelines, except to refrain from profanity, and the stipulation that inappropriate reader comments will most likely be removed by the website administrator.
  • Some comments do not appear to be well-thought out arguments, but rather revert to the use of rude or inflammatory language (insults and name-calling) to express opinions about a topic.

STUDENTS:  Remember when posting any comments online in any form — if you are not sure if you should post it, DON’T POST IT.