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How to Write an Opinion Piece

Last Updated: December 2, 2023 Fact Checked

Topic Choice

Sample opinion pieces, expert q&a.

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 421,530 times.

Opinion articles are sometimes called "op-eds," and these articles allow readers of a newspaper to voice their thoughts and ideas on topics ranging from local happenings to international controversy. People often write opinion articles about politics, current events, and public affairs. Most opinion articles are about 750 words long, with a professional tone. If you want to try your hand at writing an op-ed, you can learn to choose a compelling topic, write an effective draft, and finish off your op-ed like a professional editor.

Step 1 Be timely.

  • Scour the paper for compelling topics to respond to. If your op-ed piggybacks on work the newspaper published recently, your piece is instantly more interesting to the editors and will have more of a chance of getting published, if you want to submit it.
  • If your local library is slated to close in the next week, you could write an op-ed about the merits of the library and why it is an absolutely essential part of your community.

Step 2 Pick a topic you're passionate about.

  • Let’s continue on with the library example. Your argument could be: The library is historically a hub of learning and community. It should not be closed so that a fast food restaurant can be built on the site.

Step 3 Pick a topic you're knowledgeable about.

  • Why is the library closing? What is the history of the library? How many people check-out books from the library each day? What activities go on in the library each day? What community events are hosted in the library?
  • Keep in mind that you're more likely to get your article published if your background and credentials show that you are knowledgeable about the topic. It's best to pick a topic that relates to your personal and educational background, as well as your work expertise.

Step 4 Pick a topic that's complicated.

  • The library is a beacon of learning and togetherness in a town that lacks a community center and only has one small all-grades school.
  • You might have a personal connection to the library and could incorporate a personal story that also brings in the present-day events and community activities.
  • Explore possible alternatives to closing the library, how the community can keep the library open. Include suggestions for the local city planners.

Step 1 Get straight to the point.

  • "In the winters of my youth, when days were short and walking was done in bundled layers, my sister and I would make the short trek to the library. Afternoons were spent in art classes, and among the bookshelves of that historic building. Sadly, next month the library is slated to meet the same fate as many of our other now-closed community buildings. For me, this is the last straw."

Step 2 Use colorful details and examples to keep the reader attentive.

  • The library op-ed might draw on details like the fact that the library was founded by President Wilson because he felt the town needed a place to read and discuss. You might discuss a specific librarian who has worked there for 60 years and has read every book of fiction in the collection.

Step 3 Show the readers why they should care.

  • The closing of the library will displace 130,000 books and movies, forcing citizens of the town to travel 40 miles (64 km) to the next nearest library, bookstore, or movie rental business. Readers’ children will have access to half as many books, as the school always sends the kids to the library to rent their textbooks for the year. Etc.

Step 4 Make it personal.

  • To continue the library example: You might use a personal story about how the first book you ever read from cover to cover was in that library; or how you developed a relationship with the old lady who runs the check-out counter; or how the library was your refuge from your bad living situation.

Step 5 Avoid using passive voice and jargon.

  • Example of passive voice: “It is hoped that the local government will reconsider its plans to close the library.”
  • Example of active voice: “I hope that the local government sees what this wonderful library means to the community, and will reconsider its horrible decision to close this hub of learning and community-building.

Step 6 Plan ahead and ask the library director if you can schedule a meeting at the library.

  • To be sure, those that wish to close the library down are correct in thinking that our local economy is struggling. Businesses are closing left and right because people are not buying their goods. But to think that closing the library will solve the problem of our economy is surely a misguided notion.

Step 8 Provide a solution to the problem.

  • For example: If we come together as a community, there is a serious chance that we can save our library. Through fundraising and petitioning, I think it will become clear to the local government that they need to reconsider the closing of this historical and vibrant library. If the government were to instead allocate some of the funds they are planning on pouring into the new mega-mall to the upkeep of the library, this beautiful landmark would not have to close.

Step 1 Finish strong.

  • Make sure your final sentences include specific actions the reader can take after finishing your article.
  • Our town’s library is not only a house for the brilliant works of authors from around the world, but it is also a place where the community can come together to learn, discuss, appreciate, and inspire. If the library closes as planned, our community will lose a beautiful testament to our town’s history, and a hub for the curious minds of our young and old alike. As a community, we must come together to save our library. Do your part by calling your city council representative, donating to the library, and joining Friends of the Library.

Step 2 Keep word count in mind.

  • Newspapers will almost always edit, but will usually preserve the voice, style, and viewpoint of your piece. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can send a lengthy piece and count on them to cut it down to their liking. Papers will often skip over a piece that does not generally correspond to their specified word count.

Step 3 Don’t spend your time worrying over your headline.

  • Example of brief bio-related to library op-ed: John Smith is an avid reader with a PhD in Creative Writing and Political Science. He has lived in Library town, MA his entire life.

Step 5 Offer up any graphics you might have.

  • If it is appropriate to do so given your topic, employ the use of humor, irony, and wit. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • If your topic focuses on an issue at a national or international level, send it out to many different newspapers--don't just limit yourself to one. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

how to write an opinion piece newspaper

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  • ↑ https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/files/hks-communications-program/files/new_seglin_how_to_write_an_oped_1_25_17_7.pdf
  • ↑ https://styleguide.duke.edu/toolkits/writing-media/how-to-write-an-op-ed-article/
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/opinion-essay/
  • ↑ https://www.apa.org/monitor/2018/02/write-op-ed
  • ↑ https://www.umass.edu/pep/sites/default/files/how_to_write_an_oped-duke_2.pdf

About This Article

Emily Listmann, MA

To write an opinion piece, or an op-ed, on a current event or trend, start by condensing your argument down to 1 or 2 sentences, then support that argument with historical facts, statistics, quotes, and other interesting information. Make your point in the first few sentences, then show the readers why they should care about the issue. In addition, add in personal details that will humanize the piece and show why you feel strongly about the subject. Keep reading to learn how to address other people’s arguments to the issue. Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Writing an opinion piece

Page contents

What is an opinion piece?

An opinion piece is an article, usually around 800-900 words, that presents an opinion and builds an argument for something to be done.

It is NOT a report about research, but an informed opinion about the implications of research for action .

Opinion piece articles are sometimes called Op-ed articles. This means ‘ Op posite the Ed itorial page’ – where opinion pieces usually placed in broadsheet newspapers.

The articles published by The Conversation and Croakey are generally opinion pieces.

Why write an opinion piece article?

Opinion pieces are a good way of getting exposure when your research may not warrant a journalist’s attention as a news story.  

They position you as the expert – with an opinion backed by your research.

They are useful for advocacy and to disseminate research to a broad audience.

Finding your argument

Think about the context.

While opinion pieces are not news, they are generally newsworthy. That is, they respond to or comment on something that is of general interest at the time.

Before you write:

  • Read up on how this issue has been covered in the media recently.
  • Think about who you will pitch to – is this the kind of story they cover? Would it work for their audience?
  • Do a quick keyword search of their website to see what they have run on this issue before.
  • Ask yourself what is new or interesting about what you’re going to write. What will you say that no-one else has said before? What insights might be interesting to the public?
  • Ask yourself whether this article matters to a wider audience – and why now ?

Work out your key messages

Based on your research and your expertise, what do you believe about this issue? Is there something you want to advocate for? Or an angle on a topic that you would like to impart?

Think about the one thing that this article is trying to say. If someone asked you ‘so what’ – how would you answer in one sentence?

Then think about how you will make that argument. Write down each point, making sure you cover the who, how, why, when and what. Stick to a single theme or argument.

Order the points logically.

Opinion piece structure

First sentence or paragraph.

The purpose of the first sentence/paragraph is to grab the reader’s attention and compel them to read more.

Good opinion pieces often start with a short, sharp statement. Sometimes they might start with a story or human case study. Or they might start with something that is new, relevant or surprising. You can use your own experiences if you like.

Be as compelling as possible. Would you click?

“I remember the first time I turned up to a parkrun in Sydney in 2014, with butterflies in my stomach. A colleague had persuaded me to go along to one of the weekly 5km community runs in open, green spaces – but, even as a regular jogger, I was nervous I would come last.” (From the Prevention Centre ).

“The empty shelves in the supermarkets are a stark reminder of the potential of climate change to impact our food supply.” (From Croakey )

“In politics, as in life, there are always colliding truths.

There is no legal reason or historical precedent for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum to be a detailed proposal. The reverse is true. Referendums pose simple questions and parliaments take care of the detail.” (From smh.com.au )

Body of the article

Once you have grabbed the reader’s attention, explain the context. What is this article adding to the debate, and why should readers continue?

Now elaborate on your dot points. Use examples and description to bring colour and interest to what you write.

Put in plenty of statistics and references to research (hyperlinked rather than endnotes) to back up your argument.

Put the most important information higher up as people often don’t finish the whole article.

Make sure there is a call to action – what you would like people to do, how they should act or what should they change as a result of your argument?

Try to link paragraphs (the end of one paragraph leads into the start of the next) so the article reads as a coherent argument.

Final paragraph

The final paragraph is often a call to action, above.

Or it could be a conclusion that provides a summary – referencing the issue you began with – and paints a positive picture of how the world would improve if your advice were followed.

The aim is to leave the reader satisfied that you have answered the issue, and that they know what to do with this information.

“Indeed, maternal obesity is a societal issue that we must all tackle with a shared vision to protect women’s health during pregnancy and the health of their children, our next generation.” (From MJA Insight+ )

“We all deserve to live and work in places that intrinsically support, rather than detract from, healthy choices and behaviours, and therefore our health itself.” (From The Conversation )

“These measures to provide sustainable and attractive career opportunities will ensure a pipeline of trained public health researchers – and the prioritisation of public health for the good of all in Australia.” (From Croakey )

Write how you speak. The more conversational, the better.

Use plain English – do not use jargon . Try and simplify every word you use. The Conversation asks authors to write as if speaking to an educated 16 year-old. For other media, that should be a 12 year-old.

Explain complex ideas as you would in a conversation with a non-expert.

Pitching to media

Different media outlets have different requirements for pitches. In general, in your pitch you should:

Sum up what the article is about in one sentence

Flesh out your argument in no more than 200 words, make sure you explain why this is different and interesting, let them know why you are an expert in this area, include photos, videos, audio, tables or graphs in your pitch, examples of opinion pieces.

Here are some opinion piece examples for students, researchers and health system professionals who are writing for a policy audience.

  • Articles published by The Conversation and Croakey are generally opinion pieces
  • A Centre for Disease Prevention and Control – let’s work together to be clear on the problems it must solve , Intouch
  • Creating systems of leadership in prevention research , Intouch Public Health
  • Systemic approaches needed to address wide-ranging inequities affecting women’s health , Croakey
  • What if we had a health star rating to protect the planet? , Croakey
  • As symposium spotlights public health workforce concerns, young researchers call for action , Croakey
  • Language matters: pregnancy and overweight or obesity , InSight
  • Detail isn’t needed to vote on the Voice, but explaining these four things wouldn’t hurt , The Sydney Morning Herald
  • Are you living in a food desert? These maps suggest it can make a big difference to your health , The Conversation

Further reading

  • How to pitch to The Conversation
  • Guidelines and advice for Croakey contributors

More from the CERI User Guide

This chapter of the User Guide is one in a series available from The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre website . It was prepared by members of the Collaboration for Enhanced Research Impact (CERI) Coordinating Group to provide practical tips on knowledge mobilisation and science communication for researchers working in the prevention of chronic disease.

A desk with pen and paper, laptop and mug. Photo by Oli Dale on Unsplash

The Collaboration for Enhanced Research Impact ( CERI ) is a joint initiative between the Prevention Centre and several NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence, established in June 2020 to enhance the profile and impact of chronic disease prevention in Australia. We are working together to find alignment in the policy and practice implications of our work and to develop shared communications across our various projects and participating centres .

CERI develop shared communication across research projects and participating centres.

More resources

Toolkit for co‑producing public health law and policy, why funding for public health research needs a more strategic approach, seminar: using citizen science to address prevention challenges, browser not supported.

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How to write an opinion piece for a school newspaper.

Editorial or Column

The difference between an editorial and a column is simple. An editorial is the collective view of the newspaper and is generally unsigned. A column is the opinion of a particular person and usually reflects only his or her particular view.

If you write an editorial, it should reflect the consensus of the editorial staff of your newspaper. You should never use the pronoun “I” while writing. If you write a column, then it should reflect your personal opinion and should be known that it is written by you. In a column, you can absolutely use “I” seeing as it is a personal viewpoint.

Choosing the Subject

Generally speaking this is probably the most important part…what to write about. Choose topics that are relevant to your school and the students. This shouldn’t be hard to find, but keep things relevant.

There are four basic types of editorials:

  • Clarification – This is where you give your opinion on what a school rule means or perhaps you interpret a particular action of the school board.
  • Critique – This is where you become critical of something, perhaps a school policy, a teaching method, or the food served in the cafeteria.
  • Convincing – This is where you try to convince and sway someone to your particular viewpoint. Generally speaking, the predominate viewpoint contradicts yours, so you are trying to explain why yours is better.
  • Commendation – Here you write to put your stamp of approval on someone, something, or an idea. You explain why you agree with the person or action, defend the individual or action, and perhaps even endorse the individual or action.

Laying Out Your Argument

Your argument needs to be persuasive and entertaining. If your writing is not entertaining, who will want to read it? So being with arguments or a stance that might be somewhat controversial or outrageous, and then, as you get deeper into the argument, you clarify your position and why it is not so outrageous.

Make sure you have a catchy title that causes someone to pause, question, or become curious. But once you’ve drawn the reader in, there are several things you need to focus on:

  • Explain your position in one sentence. This should be right at the beginning of your piece…or very near the beginning. It can be, as mentioned, outrageous, controversial, or even humorous. It should grab the reader’s attention. For example:
  • Teachers should break the rules more.
  • Our football team is the best team in the nation.
  • The new school policy violates student’s free speech rights.
  • The dress code isn’t strict enough!
  • Facts. Your argument means nothing without facts. You can’t just make things up. It needs to be clear and your arguments should interpret the facts in a way that makes sense. But without facts, you are going nowhere.
  • Tell the other side’s view. This gives you credibility. It says that you know what you are talking about, have listened, but have found fault with their perspective. However, conceding to at least one point of the opposition’s view shows that you can be objective, fair, and balanced.
  • Give realistic solutions. This is important. Your credibility and influence may hinge on this. It is not enough to say someone or something is wrong. You need to offer a better alternative. If you just say why someone is wrong, but you never give a realistic solution to the problem, then your arguments will seem petty. What is your solution and why is it better than the opposition’s? Is it realistic? I mean stating that the solution is replacing the School Board with Junior High Schoolers is probably not realistic, and unless you intend it to be a satire, will probably turn readers off.
  • Don’t get too wordy. You want to aim for 500 words or less. Make every word matter and you will be more convincing.

Some writers recommend saving your best arguments for last because what a person reads last will stick in their minds longer. But if you do that, then your other arguments need to be engaging or you may lose readers.

Conclude with a reiteration of your argument and why you hold to the particular solution you presented.

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So, you want to write an opinion piece

An opinion article in a national news outlet is a great way to get your ideas noticed by politicians, policy and other decision makers, your peers and the wider public. this is why opinion editors for national publications receive hundreds of emails a day pitching opinion pieces. however, the reality is that most of these articles and ideas for articles do not get published - partly because space is so limited for them. this should not discourage you from pitching your idea if you believe you have something important to say. however, you should do it in a way that’s most likely to get it read and create the least work for you and the editor who reads it..

Cutting through the noise 

  • When pitching your idea, you should generally email the opinion or comment editor not the journalist who specialises in the area you want to write about. Their details should be available on the publication's website, but LSE's media relations team can help you if you can't find them. 
  • Approach the news outlet that is most likely to publish your piece, given their political persuasion and the issue you wish to cover.  
  • In your email introduce yourself and your credentials. Explain why you have the expertise to write about the issue you are proposing to cover. This should be no more than one or two lines.  
  • Write a brief outline of what argument you are going to make in the piece in a concise way, so it can be assessed quickly. We recommend doing this using three to four bullet points so it’s easier for an editor to scan. Remember to explain why the piece is timely or ‘news’ if it is not apparent.    
  • Include contact details for how the publication can get hold of you quickly if necessary.

Things to avoid 

  • Be sure that your proposed piece sets out an opinion, rather than an ‘on the one hand, on the other’ survey of the issue. 
  • You should not send a pre-written article speculatively. As detailed above, journalists do not have the time to read these. 
  • Don’t use jargon unless you are writing for a specialist publication. The national newspapers and their websites want articles which make good arguments in plain language. 
  • Don’t wait to pitch your idea if it relates to something in the news. Often a publication will want to run an opinion piece the day after a piece of news has broken. 
  • You should not pitch to more than one publication at once. Each publication wants an article exclusively, and if you have already offered it elsewhere, you might be rejected on this basis alone. 

What happens next?  

Unfortunately, because of the overwhelming amount of emails opinion editors receive, you are unlikely to hear back unless they are interested in following up with you. If you have not heard back within 24 –48 hours, and the idea is still fresh, you can consider pitching it to another publication.  

If the publication does follow up with you, they will likely ask for an article that is 600 – 800 words long. If it’s very timely they may ask for it by the end of the day, or the next day. It’s worth asking yourself if you have time to do this before pitching your article.   

The media relations team is very happy to advise you on your draft opinion piece after you have been commissioned. 

Need more help? 

Read more guidance about writing for different publications: 

The Guardian    

The Financial Times   

If you are not sure which publication to pitch your idea to or you would like some more guidance please contact the media relations team who will be happy to help. Email:  [email protected]   

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Opinion The Washington Post guide to writing an opinion article

how to write an opinion piece newspaper

The Washington Post is providing this news free to all readers as a public service.

Follow this story and more by signing up for national breaking news email alerts.

Each month, The Washington Post publishes dozens of op-eds from guest authors. These articles — written by subject-matter experts, politicians, journalists and other people with something interesting to say — provide a diversity of voices and perspectives for our readers.

The information and tips below are meant to demystify our selection and editing process, and to help you sharpen your argument before submitting an op-ed of your own.

how to write an opinion piece newspaper

News from the Columbia Climate School

Writing and submitting an opinion piece.

how to write an opinion piece newspaper

The opinion pages are one of the best-read sections of any publication, in print or online—often on par with front-page news. And, some of the most attentive readers are decision makers: top people in government, corporations and nonprofit institutions. Appearing there is a prime way for the nonprofessional writer to get a valuable perspective into the public eye. Here is a how-to guide.

What kind of piece?

There are two basic forms: the essay (often referred to as op-ed), and letter to the editor. (“Op-ed” comes from when all newspapers were actually printed on paper, and outside writers customarily appeared on the page OPposite staff-written EDitorials. The New York Times recently traded this old-fashioned term for “guest essay.”)

Opinion essays don’t normally come from just anyone; the writer usually has some special expertise or credibility on the topic. This might include lawyers, ex-government officials or scientists. A piece may also come from someone with an especially telling or powerful personal experience relating to the topic—for example, an essay on homelessness by someone who has been homeless. They can run 400-1,200 words. Some generate a small fee.

Letters to the editor generally run just 100 to 150 words (or edited, even shorter). They are welcome from pretty much anyone. But those with credentials often stand a better chance of getting published. Whoever you are, don’t expect payment.

What are my chances?

Most publications want only pieces that play off the news of the last few days, or the week. After that, your letter is a dead one. So, in most cases, is your op-ed. Act fast.

That said, something may be going on below the public radar that should be in the news, but has not surfaced. If you know something, you say something; an op-ed can help to break the news. Maybe an invisible threat to public safety, or an unnoticed scientific discovery. Ideally, your topic will be timely, but at the same time have a long shelf life (i.e., the issue won’t be solved in a day or a month). Occasionally, you may find a “peg” for your piece: a holiday, anniversary, election, upcoming conference, report, a pending vote in Congress.

In all cases, depending on where you submit, calibrate expectations accordingly. Major publications, especially big dailies like The New York Times , may receive hundreds of op-eds each day, and even more letters to the editor. They will use only a few. In publications with less competition, your odds increase.

What makes a good op-ed?

It’s not just your opinion. It begins with facts, and makes an argument based on facts. It is informed by logic—not emotion or ideology. You can educate without preaching. And it’s not just a complaint; you must almost always offer next steps or possible solutions for the matter at hand.

Editors want pieces that don’t just wow you with expertise; they want pieces that are colorful, fast-moving and provocative—hallmarks of any good writing. A good op-ed is concise. It hits hard. It marshals vivid images, analogies and, when appropriate, anecdotes. E ditors see the opinion page as a place for advocacy, denunciations, controversy and astonishment. They want to stimulate community discussion and drive public debate. They want people to say, “Wow! Did you see that op-ed today?”

What makes a good letter to the editor?

Same stuff basically, except in a nutshell. OK, maybe a little more pure outrage is acceptable. Just make your case, and make it fast.

How to write it ?

Whether op-ed or letter, your piece must unfold quickly. Focus on a single issue or idea. State what the issue is, and let us know where you stand. That should happen in the first short paragraph or two. Following paragraphs—the meat in the sandwich, so to speak—should back your viewpoint with factual or first-hand information. Near the end, clearly restate your position and issue a call to action.

Some specifics to keep in mind:

  • Grab the reader’s attention in the first line. End with a strong, thought-provoking line.
  • Come down hard on one side of the argument. Never equivocate.
  • Identify and acknowledge the counterargument; then refute it with facts.
  • Use active verbs; g o easy on adjectives and adverbs.
  • Avoid clichés.
  • Avoid acronyms.
  • A void technical jargon.
  • Cite specific references and easy-to-understand data.

 Next step: All writers need editors. You might show your piece to a colleague or two in your field to see if they can poke holes in it. Or, if you know a good writer, ask them how the piece might be strengthened. You can also contact your institution’s communications staff; helping out is often part of their job. (But ghostwriting is not.) No guarantee someone can turn your junky screed into an influential masterpiece—but editing almost always helps.

Finally, include a catchy headline that conveys your message. This will help the editor grasp the idea quickly, and help sell your contribution. (However, expect the publication to write its own headline; that’s just how it works.)

Must someone sign off?

In most workplaces, there is no requirement that you submit a piece to management— especially in academia. It is understood that you’re speaking for yourself, not the institution. That said: your title and affiliation will usually appear with your byline. So in that sense, you indirectly represent the honor and credibility of your institution. A controversial piece that is well articulated, well read and respectful raises the profile of your institution. This is rarely viewed as bad.    

Where and how to submit?

Everyone wants their piece in The New York Times . Few will ever see it there. Unless you have something super-strong, consider other options. Some national general-interest outlets with a big demand for copy include The Hill , CNN Opinion , Huffington Post, The Daily Beast and Slate . The Conversation specializes in op-ed-type pieces from academics. Is your piece more regional or specialized? Check regional or specialized media. Local papers are always looking for a local angle on wider issues. Publications that cover energy, law or other topics are of course looking for that kind of piece.

If you or someone you know happens to know the opinion editor, you can send directly to him or her. Otherwise, most publications have a web page telling you where to send, and their particular requirements. Don’t fret if you don’t have an inside line; editors really do read those over-the-transom submissions.

Letters to the editor can often be sent in the body of an email. Most op-ed submissions are made in an emailed Word document. For the subject line in either case, that catchy title mentioned earlier will come in handy. If it’s an op-ed, write the editor a short note in the email body telling her/him what the piece gets at, and why you’re the person to get at it. Include your contact info and, if you want, a brief bio. 

In general, submit to one publication at a time. Unfortunately, editors may take days or weeks to get back—and if it’s a rejection, you may not hear at all. ( New York Times policy: if you don’t hear in 3 days, you’re rejected.) If you feel you must submit to more than one, let the editors know. But avoid submitting the same piece to two publications in the same geographical or readership market. Higher-prestige places will require that you offer to them exclusively.

Where can I find more guidance?

Below, some good resources. The OpEd Project in particular has not only advice, but a list of specific contacts and guidelines for submitting pieces. Good luck!

The OpEd Project website  

How to Write an Op-ed, Step by Step   The Learning Agency

Writing Effective Op-eds   Duke University

Writing Letters to the Editor     Community Toolbox

Writing Effective Letters to the Editor     National Education Association

Tips for Aspiring Op-Ed Writers   New York Times

And Now a Word From Op-Ed   New York Times

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how to write an opinion piece newspaper

              NO MORE BLOOD FOR OIL

       While war rages in Eastern Europe, life goes on elsewhere.  Yet it is marked by fear and

       resentment, especially in the United States, already torn apart by political strife and the

       dread of yet another election cycle, with all that it entails.  Understandably, the average

       person (however one defines that abstraction) is worried about inflation.  At the moment,

       Americans are complaining vehemently about the high price of gasoline. Yet very little has

       been said or written about how high (or low) those fuel prices are. When we compare the

       current price at the pump to that in several other countries, including our North American

       neighbors, Great Britain, the European Union, and the three nations most affected by the

      war in Ukraine, the enormous disparity between our own situation and that facing people

      elsewhere becomes apparent.  Extrapolating from accurate and up-to-date data available 

      on the web, here is a table (adjusted for currency values, units of measurement and annual

      household income) that makes those differences as precise as they are unmistakable:*

                                   Gas Price    Unit Cost       Annual Income         Relative Cost    Purchase Power   

           U.S.               $4.84       1.00           $79,400              1/16,405           (100.00)                                                                                     U.K.               $3.70       0.76            $40,040               1/10,822            65.96                

           E.U.               $4.46        0.92            $44,091                1/9,886            60.26                        Canada            $6.20       1.28            $54,652                1/8,815            53.73        

              Poland            $22.22       4.59             $5,906               1/265.80             1.62                      Mexico          $103.17      21.32             $7,652                1/74.17             0.45        

           Ukraine         $145.17      29.99              $2,145                1/14.78            0.09        

           Russia          $672.79      139.00              $6,493                1/9.65             0.06       

            *Currency Rates: 1 USD = $0.92 EU, $0.76 £, $1.28 CAN, $22.80 złoty, $20.92 pesos, $29.66 UAH, $133 roubles     Sources: globalpetrolprices.com; worldpopulationreview.com; statista.com; CNNbusiness.com (March 12, 2022)  

       By a sublime yet tragic irony, Russia, whose proven oil and natural gas reserves are three times                larger than those of the United States, has by far the highest petroleum prices in the world. As

      Ukraine is suffering from the Russian onslaught, Russians are suffering from the actions of their

      government on a scale we can scarcely imagine.  Adjusted for income levels, the gap between

      both countries and their more affluent counterparts becomes astronomical.  Mexico, although

      still classed as a developing nation, is much better off than either one; Poland, though besieged

      by refugees and threatened by invasion, is downright wealthy compared to the other three.  As 

     the purchasing power index shows, America enjoys a standard of living that (in crude oil terms)

     is 1,667 times higher than Russia, 1,111 times that of Ukraine, and 222 times that of Mexico, an

     oil producing nation in its own right.  That does not imply that we have no right to object to an

    increase in gas prices, or that we should be grateful for what we have, and not make noise about

    the conditions we face, both as individuals and as a society.  It does mean that we must put such

    matters in global perspective, and that it is not becoming for us to act beleaguered, put upon, or

   oppressed, when our situation is not so much a major hardship as it is a minor inconvenience, or

   a mere side effect of an underlying economic disease, caused by the unholy alliance between oil

   cartels and political operatives, East and West.  The pandemic started two years ago; but OPEC

   is nearly half a century old, and shows no signs of abating, despite the routine lip service paid to

   alternative energy sources, environmental regulations, and an end to domestic drilling, both on

   land and off-shore.  “Energy independence” is neither an unattainable ideal nor an inducement

  to promote the use of fossil fuels.  But if Europe relies on Russian oil, what does Russia rely on? 

  And for how long can it withstand the misery and suffering that it has inflicted on itself, let alone

  those whom it failed to bully into submission?  Who will die first—the oligarch, the imperialist,

  or the global monopolist?  And who will pay the steep price, let alone, clean up the whole mess?

  Meanwhile. the U.S. imports nearly half (48%) of its oil, not from Venezuela or the Middle East

  but from Canada, which accounts for over 90% of their oil exports.  How long can we continue

  deceiving ourselves about why trucker convoys swarmed upon Ottawa?  Or about the role that

  Athabascan sands (in the province of Alberta) play in fiscal diplomacy, never mind the Alaska 

  pipeline? And how long can either Russia or the United States remain superpowers, while mired

  in myths, misconceptions and militarism, while everyone on the ground is caught in a vise, even

  as they struggle to survive?  Blaming the villain (Putin) is easy; rooting out economic causes 

  and human consequences of what passes for domestic as well as foreign policy is much harder.

 [cf. Vaclav Smil, Energy and Civilization: A History (Cambridge, MA, 2017); Richard Rhodes, 

 Energy: A Human History (New York, 2018); R. Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path (New York,

  1981).  Fuller’s warnings are as apt now as they were four decades ago, only far more urgent].

  Yet it must be done, or the world will perish in flames, losing its grip while clinging to illusions.

  As Adam Smith prophesied on the eve of the American Revolution, “this empire [Great Britain]

  . . . has hitherto existed in imagination only . . . it is surely now time that our rulers should either

 realize this golden dream . . . or that they should awake from it themselves, and endeavour to

 awaken the people.  If the project cannot be completed, it ought to be given up” (The Wealth

 of Nations [1776], “Of Public Debts,” V.3. ad fin.; ed. Edwin Cannan [1904], new pref. George J. 

 Stigler (Chicago, 1976), Vol, II, 486).  If we don’t change our ways, extinction will be our lot—

 our fossils will tell the tarry tale, as it did for all the dinosaurs who once ruled the earth.



I think Putin will go down in history as a waster of young russian lives also a barbarian and for nothing he must not like the russian people ether as thay also suffer mothers losing sons wives losing husband children losing father’s what an a*%*#h##&£#_

That goes without saying, yet it does nothing to change the situation. It also ignores the fact that neither his friends nor his foes among the nations of the world are any less guilty of creating and perpetuating the misery and suffering which you rightly condemn. Invective is neither helpful nor illuminating. As Sam Rayburn used to say, “you can always tell a man to go to hell, but making him go there is another story entirely.” When you find the words to make that happen, let me know.

how to write an opinion piece newspaper


How to write an opinion piece for The Irish Times

The most important rule is to have a clear point to make and get to it quickly.

how to write an opinion piece newspaper

You do not need any academic or professional qualification to write an oped, but you must offer some reason as to why our readers would be interested in your views on the subject about which you are proposing to write. Photograph: Getty Images

John McManus's face

The Irish Times is always looking for interesting opinion pieces and fresh voices, particularly from writers who come from backgrounds that are currently underrepresented on our pages.

The following is intended as a brief guide to how to approach writing an opinion piece for us and how to submit it for consideration.

Opinion pieces are called opeds because they sit on the page opposite the editorial page of the newspaper, which carries the daily editorials and the letters.

They appear in the opinion section of The Irish Times website and app.

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The trouble with saying ‘I’m not right wing or racist but . . .’

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Johnson deserves a hearing in Ireland but will not get one

We publish three or four opeds every weekday and six on the weekend. One or two, depending on the day, are written by outside contributors.

Irish Times opeds are usually between 850 and 950 words long not including headlines and the author’s biographical details.

They can be submitted by email to [email protected] , either as an attachment or in the body of the email. Preferably both.

In the email you should set out briefly who you are and why you feel you are qualified to write the piece. You do not need any academic or professional qualification to write an oped, but you must offer some reason as to why our readers would be interested in your views on the subject about which you are proposing to write.

Please give a brief summary of the piece: no more than a sentence or two.

You should also explain why your idea is topical, ie, why we should publish it now.

It is not necessary to submit the finished article but the majority of contributors tend to do so. It gives us a better idea of the point you are making and speeds up the decision-making process. It can also help you formulate and express your thoughts.

We will endeavour to get back to you promptly with a yes or no. However, we get a large number of submissions each day and if you have not heard from us within three working days we are unlikely to use your submission.

Some advice on style and approach

Opeds are not columns and you should not try and write like a columnist. Avoid the use of the first person. Humour is also best avoided; there is no typeface for irony.

Keep your sentences short and avoid jargon and acronyms unless they are well known, eg, Nphet.

The most important rule – the only rule really – is to have a clear point to make and get to it quickly.

Writers from an academic or scientific background often tend to make the mistake of telling us everything we know already about a topic before revealing a new insight or piece of information.

When writing an oped you can assume the readers are up to speed on the topic because it relates to something in the news or otherwise generally understood and widely known. If your topic doesn’t fall into any of these categories then it is probably not oped material.

You need to grab the reader’s attention quickly – within the first couple of paragraphs – and it is best done by revealing the nature of the new information you have to tell them or the fresh perspective you are offering them.

The rest of the piece should be devoted to expanding on the core point, explaining your reasoning and arguing it out.You should try and anticipate the obvious counterarguments to your point and debate them.

Oftentimes it works well to present your argument as counterintuitive or contradictory of the received wisdom on a subject. Or alternatively as explicitly supportive of something or someone, particularly if there is an element of controversy, eg, X had no choice but to do Y.

If you are writing about a piece or research or a survey it is not necessary to explain the methodology or go into the results in detail. The readers are only interested in the results insofar as they are directly relevant to the point you are making.

And finally

The above is not exhaustive and there are always exceptions.

The following may also be helpful:

[  nytimes.com/2017/08/25/opinion/tips-for-aspiring-op-ed-writers.html  ]

[  theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/14/how-to-pitch-article-guardian-opinion  ]

[  helpcenter.washingtonpost.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003675788-Submit-an-op-ed  ]

John McManus is Opinion Editor of The Irish Times

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