Resource Sep 6, 2019

How To Write a Letter to the Editor

Writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper is a powerful way to voice your concerns about issues affecting national parks. It doesn't need to be as scary as it sounds. Just follow these simple steps to share your concerns about national parks.

1. Read

  • Peruse your college, local or national newspaper. Find a national park-related article that resonates with you. You should feel inspired or provoked by the content.
  • Find the paper’s Letter to the Editor guidelines online, and then grab your pen or laptop.

2. Write

  • Start with your personal details: name, address, phone number & email address.

  • Keep your salutation simple: “Dear Editor.”

  • Be succinct, focused and fact-based with your content. (Need some help? Email and we’ll put you in touch with an issue expert.)

LTE Tips

Timing: For your best chance at publishing, submit your LTE within one week of the article to which you’re responding.

Length: Keep it short! Shoot for no more than 200 words.

National or local? National papers have larger audiences, so more readership, but the competition to get your LTE printed will be higher. Local papers have smaller readerships, but it’s often easier to get your LTE placed.

  • Refer to the original article within the first sentence or two and establish your position clearly.

  • Share your personal attachment to the issue. How/why does this issue relate to you or impact you?

  • Drop names if a specific company, board, legislator or agency is relevant to the situation.

  • Include a “call to action.” Propose a solution and offer ways the readers can get involved.

  • End your letter strongly. Leave no doubt as to your position on the issue.

3. Review

  • Look back over your LTE and cut any extraneous words.

  • Keep your sentences active and your tone respectful and appropriate.

  • Remove all jargon, acronyms, confusing policy talk or slang.

  • Ensure your LTE expresses a sense of urgency.

4. Submit

  • Send in your LTE using the method preferred by the newspaper (email, online intake form or — rarely — snail mail).
LTE Example

Click on the image to see an annotated example of a letter to the editor. 

5. Next Steps

  • Read the paper regularly and keep an eye out for your published LTE. (Note: The paper may edit your letter for length or clarity.)

  • Spread the word. Share your published LTE with your network, and don’t forget to tag NPCA.

  • If your letter doesn’t get published, try again and don’t be discouraged. The more articles that are submitted about a particular topic or that contribute to a robust public dialogue, the more likely an editor will pick one to reflect public opinion.

For More Information

Read more from NPCA