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How to Write a Letter to the Editor

In our current climate, you will be reacting more and more to articles being written in your local, regional or national publication. Before you respond to that tone deaf article, please read the dos of writing a LTE with the help of the NOW National Action Program.

What is a LTE?

A letter to the editor (LTE) is a response to an article or column posted in a magazine. An LTE can come from various sources, private citizens, activists, other journalists, or experts in the issues discussed in the original article. However, LTE’s are often most effective when they are crafted by those who have a unique perspective or breadth of knowledge about the subject expressed in the original article. Though LTE’s are often take the opposing side of the narrative presented in the original article, they can also be spaces to reaffirm an piece of writing that supports your viewpoint.

The Dos of Writing a LTE

Do keep it brief

An LTE (unless particularly special circumstances) should be no more that 2 to 3 paragraphs.

Do get to the point quickly

Because LTE’s rely on brevity, there is no room for introductions or fluff. Stick to the point.

Do cite the article and author you are responding to in your title

Remember to address the author and the content head on, do not beat around the bush.

Do remember your tone

What is the general voice of the letter? Humorous? Sardonic? Serious? Whatever tone you choose, make sure it is consistent.

Do get specific

Use your LTE to highlight specific concerns or issues.

Do use facts

While an LTE is a personal response, it is always more potent when quantitative data is included.

Do be creative!

Use the space you have thoughtfully. Figure out the best way to make your argument while standing out from the dozens of other LTEs.

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