Document Type

Guide (how-to document)


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



Demography, Population, and Ecology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


One way to express your opinion publicly is through a letter to the editor in your local newspaper. While every letter may not be published, editors pay attention to well-written letters. This is especially true when there are many letters written on the same topic. In turn, elected officials are also influenced by letters newspapers have chosen for publication. This guide will help you prepare an effective letter to the editor that expresses your opinion on an issue. It includes two letters about a controversial issue and specific guidelines on how to prepare a successful letter yourself. After you read the guide, prepare a letter yourself. Let a friend read it for clarity. Be sure to sign the letter and list your address – newspapers will not publish anonymous letters. Your letter can be positive, negative or informative in tone. It can also be emotional or objective. But it should be simple and short – rarely more than 300 words. And, of course, it should reflect your true opinions.


community participation and independent living, leadership, rural, disability


© 1984, Tom Seekins and Stephen B. Fawcett

Granting Agency

National Institute on the Handicapped; U.S. Department of Education's Rehabilitation Services Administration


Funded by a grant (#G008006928) from the National Institute on the Handicapped. Reproduced in 2000 with written permission from the RTC/IL under a grant (#H235K000002) from the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration.

Project Number

NIH: G008006928; USDE: H235K000002