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Writing and Submitting an Opinion Piece: A Guide

Why write an opinion piece?

Print vs. electronic

What makes a good piece



Which publication?

Writing the piece

How to vet it

How to submit

Where to submit (list of contacts)
Why write an opinion piece?

The opinion pages are among the best-read sections of any publication—often on par with the front page itself. In addition to the general public, some of the most attentive readers of these pages are decision makers in government, corporations, and nonprofit institutions. The opinion pages are one of the best ways for the nonprofessional writer to place an issue in the public eye, or to bring his or her perspective to the news.

Print vs. electronic
The writing guidelines are the same in any medium. That said, the bulk of contacts in this guide are for print media: the traditional high-profile magazines and newspapers. The booming (and less rarefied) world of electronic media includes blogs, extended web editions of newspapers or broadcast outfits such as the Financial Times or CNN, and purely web-based news/opinion operations such as the Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, and These are worth checking out. One of the many current guides is the book An Introduction to Writing for Electronic Media. But things change fast on the web; the sites that interest you are the best direct sources on how to get in.

What makes a good piece?
Three basic kinds of items appear in opinion pages: editorials, written by newspaper staff; letters to the editor, written by readers; and op-eds (OPposite the EDitorials on the page), generally written by people with special expertise or credibility in a certain field.
Letters to the editor are the brief option. Generally, they comment on news of the last few days or weeks. Big papers may receive hundreds per day, and print only a dozen. Still, if you have special credentials—and can speak pointedly-- you have a chance of getting in.
Op-eds get more space. They usually analyze current news too—but they need a whole lot more facts and structure to do the job. Beyond commenting on known news, they can also introduce readers to new ideas, or a perspective on the news that has not been evident until the writer brought it up. Op-eds are in fact sometimes readers’ introduction to an important issue. (They also sometimes generate a small fee for the author. They are very competitive; big papers may receive dozens, even hundreds, of submissions a day.
In general, editors want pieces that do not just display expertise; they want pieces that are well written, timely and provocative—all the hallmarks of any good nonfiction writing. A good op-ed or letter to the editor is concise. It hits hard. It marshals vivid images, analogies and arguments. It is informed and backed by facts—not just emotion or opinion. Most editors see this as a section for advocacy, denunciations, controversy and astonishment. In general, they want the opinion pages to stimulate community discussion and drive public debate. They want people to say "Wow! Did you see that op-ed (or letter to the editor) today?"

Are you the right person to write an op-ed or letter? Passion and strong opinion are prerequisites; but they are not enough. Your credibility is far higher if you have true expertise, either through your training and work, or through a telling and powerful personal experience. This is one thing that often sets the op-ed writer apart from the letter writer. That said, even a letter signed by a person with a relevant title potentially (though not always) carries more credibility for the reader than one by someone who has written in randomly. The main thing is: you should be able to back up any point you make.

If the issue or a related subject has been in the news lately, or if you are responding to a particular article, then the background of your piece will be well laid out, and it will increase your chances of getting in. However, in some cases, something may be going on below the public radar that should be in the news pages, but has not yet reached them. So, sometimes an op-ed helps to break the news itself. Occasionally if your op-ed does not break new ground, you may be able to find something current to tie it to: a holiday, anniversary, election, upcoming conference, report, a vote in Congress, or pending action by local or state government.

Which Publication?
Consider your readers before you do anything. Are you submitting to a national, general-interest publication? If not, narrow your scope to something that pertains to the readership of that publication. Do not write about oil rights in Alaska if you are sending your op-ed to Tennessee—unless you are addressing oil prices across the country. Editors of local and regional papers also look for community interest or a strong local angle., and unless there is considerable public debate already, will be less receptive to op-eds about national issues or broad ideas. In this case, you can try telling a local story, usually about a real person, family or group and how your issue affects them.

Writing the piece
An op-ed is generally 500-750 words. It must unfold quickly. Focus on one issue or idea, briefly express your opinion in your opening paragraph, and be clear and confirmed in your viewpoint. The following paragraphs should back your viewpoint with factual, researched, or first-hand information. A good op-ed is not just an opinion; it consists of fact put into well-informed context.
Be timely and controversial--but not outrageous. Personal, conversational, and humorous (when appropriate) writing is important to readability, and to capturing the reader’s attention. Make sure that you educate without preaching. Near the end, clearly restate your position and issue a call to action. If you are discussing a problem, then offer a solution or a better approach; this takes the reader beyond mere criticism.
Try to include a catchy title for your op-ed that emphasizes your central message. This will help the editor grasp the idea quickly, and help sell the piece. (However, be prepared for the paper to write its own headline; they will rarely use the writer’s head no matter how good it is. That’s just the way it’s done.)
Here are some specific devices to keep in mind as you write.

  • Come down hard on one side of the argument, and never equivocate.

  • Identify the counterargument, and refute it with facts.

  • Emphasize active verbs; go easy on adjectives and adverbs.

  • Avoid clichés.

  • Avoid technical jargon and acronyms

  • Try to grab the reader's attention in the first line. End with a strong or thought-provoking line.

  • Use specific references and easy-to-understand data rather than abstraction.

  • Anecdotes can sometimes help enhance understanding of an issue.

  • Ideally, your topic will be timely, but at the same time have a long shelf life (i.e., the problem won’t be solved in a month).

Letters to the editor are far briefer: usually 50-150 words after editing. Thus, you need to make a single strong point, and leave it at that. Letters to the editor usually address a subject already known to the reader—one reason they can be shorter, since explanation and development of facts is generally left out. You might think of it as the beginning and end of an op-ed; there is no space for the stuff in between. But all the same rules of good writing apply. As with an op-ed, supply a good title.

More pointers:

And Now a Word From Op-Ed New York Times, Feb, 1, 2004

What We Talk About When We Talk About Editing New York Times, July 31, 2005

Op-Ed Articles: How to Write and Place Them Duke University 2010

How to Vet It

All writers have editors. You can start by showing the piece to colleagues for their common-sense reaction. You can also contact your institution’s news media staff; they are trained writers, and helping out with such pieces is part of the job. There is no guarantee that they can turn a junky screed into an influential masterpiece; but they can offer valuable suggestions and maybe some rewriting. (Don’t expect them to be your ghostwriter.)

Beyond this, in most workplaces, there is no formal requirement that you submit a piece to managers, or anyone else, for review; everyone in a scientific or academic institution is free to express an opinion. In most forums, it is understood that by publishing a piece, you are speaking for yourself—not the institution. That said, your title and workplace will almost certainly be listed near your byline; so in that sense, you do indirectly represent the honor and credibility of your institution. It is often politic to at least give colleagues or media staff a heads-up that you are writing something. This allows you to get valuable feedback on things you may not have thought of: for instance, special internal sensitivity on a topic, or the risk of exhibiting a perceived conflict of interest. In general, a well-stated opinion raises the visibility of your institution--and this is rarely viewed as bad.

How to Submit
Nowadays, letters or op-eds should almost always be submitted by email. If you happen to know the opinion editor at a certain newspaper, or a friend who knows that editor, that rarely hurts; send it directly to him or her. Otherwise, see the list below.
Include a brief bio, along with your phone number, email address, and mailing address at the bottom. For an op-ed, use a succinct cover letter to establish why you are qualified to write this piece. Explain (very briefly!) why the issue is important and why readers would care.
In general, you should submit to one publication at a time. However, editors can take up to 10 days to accept or reject. If your piece is very timely, it is acceptable to submit to several places at once, but you should let each editor know you are doing so. But do try to avoid submitting the same op-ed to two papers in the same geographical or readership market. The question of simultaneous submissions gets a little more complicated if you are targeting national-market publications such as the New York Times or USA Today. If you are shooting for the top, then you should go to one at a time. Quite often, you will not be notified if your op-ed is rejected (at last notice, the official New York Times policy was that you could consider yourself rejected if you didn’t’ hear in seven days). But, it is also generally acceptable to give a time limit in your cover letter, after which you will shop it to another paper.

If your op-ed does not get accepted, but still concerns a topic of current concern, and you don’t want to try another venue, it is a good idea to shorten it and resubmit it as a letter to the editor. You get less space—but it’s still high visibility..

Where to Submit
The following pages contain contacts and guidelines for the 101 highest circulation newspapers in the United States. Note: many publish extended web editions with room for far more opinion content than the print editions. Check newspaper sites for such opportunities.
Beyond newspapers, national publications that might be of interest:
Science magazine Runs regular guest editorials, commentary and letters to the editor. Information, guidelines: Deputy editor for commentary: Barbara Jasny 202-326-6515 .
Chronicle of Higher Education Runs opinion pieces in The Chronicle Review, Point of View, and Commentary sections. E-mail: Fax: 202-452-1033
Submission guidelines: Opinion editor: Sarah Hardesty-Bray 202-466-1091


USA Today

Op-Eds: 600-800 words. Fact-based approach. Include background information--qualifications for writing about subject, basic contact information. E-mail the Forum Page Editor at (No attachments).
(circ. 2,220,863) Glen Nishimura, Opinion Page Editor,, 703-854-4426

Letters: 250 words or less. Include name, address, phone, and submit online at or e-mail


Wall Street Journal

Op-Eds: 600-1200 words, double-spaced. Must be strong argument about issue in news, not response to Journal article. Exclusive use of your article is required and the paper reserves 10 working days to keep it under consideration. Include cover letter, name, address, phone, fax, e-mail. E-mail or fax 212/416-2255.
(circ. 2,106,774) Tunku Varadarajan, Opinion Page Editor,, 212-416-2565. Go to for more information.

Letters: 300 word limit, must relate to story or editorial in WSJ--include date, headline and page number of article, city where writer is located. E-mail or fax 212/416-2255.


New York Times

Op-Eds: Suggested length is 650 words, but articles of any length will be considered. The Times will respond within one week if the op-ed is to be published. Cannot return unused submissions. Op-eds can be on any topic, but not a response to Times article. Please include name, title, phone number, and address. Op-eds can be e-mailed (in body of e-mail) or faxed. Fax: 212/556-4100, E-mail or The Op-Ed Page, 229 W. 43 rd St., New York, NY 10036. (circ. 1,121,057) David Shipley, Opinion Page Editor,, 212-556-7735. For further guidelines go to or call for recorded instructions: 212/556-1831.

Letters: 150 words or less, exclusive to Times, refer to article within past 7 days, include author’s phone numbers, address e-mail to or Letters to the Editor/ The New York Times, 229 W. 43 rd St., New York, NY 10036. Fax: 212/556-3622.


Washington Post

Op-Eds: 750-1000 words, must be written exclusively for The Post. Writers must include work and home phone numbers, an address and job title if applicable. E-mail Fax: 202/334-5269. Mail: Editorial Page Editor, 1150, 15 th St., NW, Washington, DC, 20071. Courier to 1515 L St., NW, Washington, DC 20071. Allow 2-5 days for decision. Check submissions at 202/334-7471 or 202/334-7470. (circ. 751,871) Fred Hiatt, Opinion Page Editor,, 202-334-7281. Outlook (Washington Post Sunday commentary section) Susan Glasser, Editor,, (202) 334-6053 Or Steve Luxenberg, Opinion Page Sunday Editor,, 202-334-7348. Guidelines:

Letters: Do not send attachments, include contact info. and, if sending by mail, signature. Submit by e-mail or mail to Letters to the Editor, The Washington Post, 1150 15 St. NW, Washington, DC 20071. The Post is unable to acknowledge letters it does not publish.


Los Angeles Times

Op-Eds: 700 word limit. Exclusive use required. Please give the newspaper 10 days to consider the submission. Manuscripts cannot be returned unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Submit by e-mail at or fax: Nicholas Goldberg, 213/237-7968. Call 213/237-2121 for complete submission information.
(circ. 902,164) or go to:,0,4524067.story
Nicholas Goldberg, Opinion Page Editor,, 213-237-7807

Bob Sipchen, Opinion Page Sunday Editor,, 213-237-3412

Letters: 250 words or less, must include mailing address, phone number, signature. Letters must be written in plain text without attachments. E-mail Call 800/LATIMES ext. 74511 for more information.


Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA)

Op-Eds: Prefer less than 750 words; more than 1,200 words risks being disqualified purely out of lack of staff time to edit it. Exclusive use required; if chosen, you will be called to verify, and you will be included in the editing process. If you haven't heard back within 48 hours for articles pegged to news events, or within 2 weeks for articles without a news peg, feel free to submit your piece elsewhere. Submit to opinion editor Josh Burek,, 617-450-2452, or via fax to 617/450-2317. Prefer completed submissions rather than queries. For further guidelines, go to

Letters: 200 words or less, include your first and last name, city and state, and telephone number. All letters to be published are subject to editing/condensing. Submit online at


Philadelphia Inquirer (PA)

Op-Eds: approx. 700 words, include phone number, mailing address. Submissions by e-mail:, or by mail: Commentary Page Editor, Philadelphia Inquirer, Box 41705, Philadelphia, PA 19101 or fax: 215/854-5884.

Letters: approx. 200 words, same contact information as above. If about specific regional issue, refer to for more detailed information. For general letters, submit by e-mail:, fax: 215/854-4483 or mailing address above (addressed to Letters Editor).


Chicago Tribune (IL)

Op-Eds: Manuscripts may be submitted to the op-ed page by fax: 312/222-2598, or e-mail: (circ. 573,744) Marcia Lythcott, Opinion Page Editor,, 312-222-4198

Letters: include phone numbers, address. Submit by e-mail:, fax: 312/222-2598, mail to Voice of the People, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL, 60611 or online at


Daily News (New York, NY)

Op-Eds: 550 words or less. Include address and phone numbers. Submit by fax: 212/643-7828, e-mail:, or mail: Daily News, Attn: Robert Laird, 450 W. 33rd St., New York, NY 10001.
(circ. 715,052)

Nancy O'Brien, Opinion Page Editor,, 212-210-1912

Letters: the shorter the letter, the more likely to get published. Include name, address, phone number. Submit by e-mail to


New York Post (New York, NY)

Op-Eds: 500 words or less. The Post prefers op-eds to be faxed or mailed. Mr. Cunningham also encourages individuals to call and discuss their ideas for op-eds with him. The Post very rarely uses info. from PR-type organizations. Be selective in what is sent because he stops considering pieces if he's "received too much junk." E-mail:; mail: 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036-8790 or fax: 212/930-8542. (circ. 686207) Mark Cunningham, Opinion Page Editor,, 212-930-8539

Letters: submit online at or e-mail  Include name and basic contact information with all submissions.


Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Op-Eds: 800 words or less. Prefer writers exclusive to the state. Submit to Eric Ringham, Op-Ed Editor, via e-mail:; fax: 612/673-4359 or mail: Opinion Editor, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, 425 Portland Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 5548.

Letters: 250 words or less, include all contact information and a signature. All letters become the property of the Star Tribune and if chosen, will be published within a month. Send to Editorial Department at same address above.


Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)

Op-Eds: 650-700 words. All items submitted should have a local connection. E-mail: Send both plain text and attachment. Include name, basic contact info.

Letters: The shorter, the more likely it will be printed. Include all contact information. Mail: Letters to the Editor, Rocky Mountain News. P.O. Box 719, Denver, CO 80201. Fax: (303) 892-2568. E-mail:


Houston Chronicle (TX)

Op-Eds: 600 words or less. The subject matter of the article should be of specific interest to the local area. The writer should have a demonstrated expertise in the subject matter area. Attachments accepted, include full contact and byline information. E-mail:, fax: 713/362-3575 or regular mail (address below).
(circ. 554,783) James Gibbons, Opinion Page Editor,, 713-362-7520

Letters: 250 words or less, must have all contact information. Submit by e-mail:, fax: 713/362-3575 or mail to: Viewpoints, c/o Houston Chronicle, PO Box 4260, Houston, TX  77210.


Newsday (Long Island, NY)

Op-Eds: 700-800 words. Viewpoints occasionally publishes unsolicited opinion essays. Include name, phone numbers, address and e-mail. Submit as open text to Editor will contact you if essay is to be published. (circ. 459,305) Noel Rubinton, Opinion Page Editor,, 631-843-2313 Leslie Seifert, Opinion Page Sunday Editor,, 631-843-2907

Letters: 250 words or less. Must mention relevant political, financial or other interest in subject, Newsday does not return submitted letters or accept e-mails as attachments. Include all contact information. Submit to or by fax 631/843-2986 or 718/793-6422 or send to Letters Editor, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747.


Dallas Morning News (TX)

Op-Eds: Less than 750 words. Include daytime phone number and mailing address. Submit by e-mail:
(circ. 519,014)

Keven Ann Willey, Opinion Page Editor,, 214-977-8253

Sharon Grigsby, Opinion Page Editor,, 214-977-8494

Letters: Less than 200 words. Include address and phone number. Submit via e-mail to:, online form at, fax: 972/263-0456 or regular mail: Letters from Readers, The Dallas Morning News, Box 655237,  Dallas, TX  75265.


Chicago Sun-Times (IL)

Op-Eds: 650 word limit. Topic must relate to an issue currently in the news and be exclusive to the Chicago area. Please include full name, address and telephone number. Send plain-text e-mail to or fax submissions: 312/321-2120.
(circ. 487,480)

Steve Huntley, Opinion Page Editor,, 312-321-2535

Letters: Include full name, phone number and address.


San Francisco Chronicle (CA)

Op-Eds: 650 words or less. Contact Op-Ed editor John Sullivan. E-mail is the best way to submit: or fax: 415/543-7708. Subject line of e-mail should read - "For Open Forum." No attachments. (circ. 505,022). Jim Finefrock, Opinion Page Editor,, 415-777-7923. For further guidelines, go to

Letters: 200 words or less. Editor prefers e-mail submissions, does not accept attachments: or fax: 415/543-7708.


Arizona Republic (Phoenix)

Op-Eds: To submit My Turn Columns under 600 words for the main Opinion page, mail: My Turn, The Arizona Republic, PO Box 2244, Phoenix, AZ 85002; e-mail:; fax: 602/444-8933. For more information, call 602/444-8499.
(circ. 413,268) Dan Nowicki, Opinion Page Editor,, 602-444-6899

Letters: 200 word limit, must be signed, include daytime phone number, mailing address, submit online: or mail to Letters to the Editor, The Arizona Republic, P.O. Box 2244, Phoenix, AZ 85002. Letters may also be faxed to 602/444-8933 or e-mail:


Boston Globe (MA)

Op-Eds: 750 words or less. Marjorie Pritchard is responsible for the content of the op-ed page. She can be contacted by phone, mail or fax. Boston Globe, PO Box 2378, Boston, MA 02107-2378 Phone: 617/929-3041 fax: 617/-929-2098. E-mail:
(circ. 451,471) Marjorie Pritchard, Opinion Page Editor,, 617-929-3041 Nick King, Opinion Page Editor,, 617-929-2838

Letters: limit 200 words. Include all contact information. E-mail: or mail to Letters to the Editor, Boston Globe, P.O. Box 55819, Boston, MA 02205-5819 or fax to 617/929-2098. For more information, go to


Miami Herald (FL)

Op-Eds: 600 words or less for weekly editions of the paper. Longer pieces may be utilized for the Sunday edition but rarely if unsolicited. Published submissions are to be used exclusively for the Miami Herald. E-mailed submissions are preferred. You will only be notified if the paper will be using your piece. E-mail: or

Letters: include name, address, phone number, e-mail to  (no attachments), mail to The Readers’ Forum, The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132-1693 or fax 305/376-8950.


Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)

Op-Eds: 800 words or less. Include name, address, phone number. Submit by e-mail: or fax 973/-392-5845.

Letters: 200 words or less, e-mail or mail to 1 Star- Ledger Plaza, Newark, N.J 07102 or fax to 973/392-4040.


Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)

Op-Eds: 750 words or less. All submissions should be exclusive to other papers in Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas. Include name, address and phone. Fax to 404/526-5611. E-mailed submissions are preferred:

Letters: 150 words or less, include basic contact info. Submit letters online at or e-mail


San Diego Union- Tribune (CA)

Op-Eds: 700 words or less. Submissions should be about something in the news that would be of interest to area resident, sign if faxed or mailed. E-mail: or fax: 619/260-5081 or mail: Opinion Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune, PO Box 120191, San Diego, CA 92112.

Letters: published according to ratio of letters expressing given side on issues. No more than one letter per author per 120 days. Submit by e-mail: or fax or mail to above contacts (address to Letters Editor).


Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH)

Op-Eds: 900 words or less. Please include a cover letter explaining who is submitting the op-ed and the relevance of the issue. E-mail: or mail/fax to same information below.

Letters: 250 words or less, include full contact information, submit online form at e-mail:, mail to Letters to the Editor, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1801 Superior Ave., Cleveland, OH 44114 or fax 216/999-6209.


Oregonian (Portland,OR)

Op-Eds: 600 words or less, preference given to short essays on "highly topical issues or themes of particular relevance to the Pacific Northwest, Oregon, and the Portland Metro area." Special expertise a pre-requisite on national or international matters. Send plain-text by e-mail to Or fax: 503/294-4193.

Letters: 150 word limit, include address and daytime phone. Submit by e-mail to, fax: 503/294-4193 or by mail: Letters to the Editor, The Oregonian 1320 SW Broadway Portland, OR 97201.


Detroit Free Press (MI)

Op-Eds: 750- 800 words, and prefers local writers, issues and angles. The Free Press provides stipends for published columns. Please include a complete address and both day and evening telephone numbers. E-mail:, submit by mail or fax to contacts below.

Letters: 200 words or less, subject to editing. Does not accept e-mail attachments--include letter in body of e-mail. Must include full mailing address and phone numbers. Anonymous letters, letters to third parties and letters to other publications will not be considered. Submit to or Editor, Detroit Free Press, 600 W. Fort, Detroit, MI 48226 fax: 313/222-6774.


St. Petersburg Times (FL)

Op-Eds: The Times very rarely uses op-eds, but those submitted should be 750 words or less. Submit by e-mail, text only, to:; Fax: 727/893-8675.

Letters: 200-300 words, E-mail: Include name, address, phone, e-mail address in body of e-mail, signature if possible.


Denver Post (CO)

Op-Eds: 650-700 words, should address specific issues, not refer to previously published items. Must include full name, home address, e-mail address and phone numbers for verification. No attachments. Mail: Guest Commentary, The Denver Post, 1560 Broadway, Denver 80202; Fax: 303/820-1502; E-mail:

Letters: Limit 200 words on topics of general interest. Must include full name, address, e-mail address, and day/evening phone numbers for verification. Mail: The Open Forum, The Denver Post, 1560 Broadway, Denver 80202; fax: 303/820-1502; e-mail:


Orange County Register (CA)

Op-Eds: Prefer 650 words for daily (M-F) op-ed section or 850 works for weekly "guest columns" section. Must be topical and make case through evidence and facts. Most likely to publish local focus, single issue, well-supported articles written by local author. Also prefer articles that agree with editorial page’s “commitment to individual liberties and limited government." E-mail op-eds to, columns editor Chris Reed at PO Box or fax listed below.

Letters: should be around 150 words. Submit to Letters Editor Betty Talbert by e-mail:, or mail to PO Box 11626, Santa Ana, CA 92711 or fax: 714/796-3657.


Investors Daily

Does not accept unsolicited opinion pieces.

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