Writing an Effective Opinion Piece
Op-ed submissions can be an effective way to communicate your professional opinions – and perhaps your research – while adding to the public conversation about a topic.
- Focus on one main idea or a single theme in your op-ed.
- Have a clear editorial viewpoint. State that point in your first paragraph, and then proceed to back up your opinion or prove your thesis.
- Look for opportunities to wed your specific area of expertise or interest with news developments.
- Timeliness is crucial. One day can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection.
- If you can, be controversial in your opinion.
- Always write for the lay reader. Be clear and straightforward. Use simple words, short declarative sentences. Even the brainiest of readers will lose interest if your submission is replete with long, complex sentences and paragraphs.
- Make your submission as argumentative as possible. This does not mean it should be quarrelsome, but it should follow methodological reasoning.
- Express a strong call to action. Write with passion and “fire in your gut.”
- Take pains to educate the reader with your insight, but don’t condescend or preach.
- Know that the editor reserves the right to edit or condense your contribution.
- Offer exclusivity to your outlet of choice. Don’t approach a second outlet until you’ve been declined by the first one.
- Be patient: writers whose submissions are considered for publication are generally notified within 1-2 weeks. If your topic is so timely that you can’t wait that long, let the editor know you’re moving on and try another outlet.
- Submissions should be about 650 words. Some outlets will accept longer submissions for the weekend edition.
- Include your name, credentials (briefly stated), mailing address and daytime phone number.
- Include “Op-Ed Submission” in subject line.
- Include the submission in the body of the email, not as an attachment.
If you are looking for guidance in writing your op-ed, or assistance with editing or pitching it, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
New York Times | email@example.com | 212.556.1831
The Washington Post |firstname.lastname@example.org | 202.334.7471
Los Angeles Times | email@example.com | 213.237.2121