Why Write a Letter to the Editor (LTE)?
- LTEs are among the most-read sections of a newspaper. Writing LTEs are a great way to get your message to your community.
- LTEs allow you to share personal stories and perspectives as a way of taking action on policies, but also to inspire your neighbors, communities, and fellow Mainers to take action, creating a ripple effect. Personal stories coming from peers and fellow community members are part of being human, and are one of the most impactful ways to form connections with people around us and move others to action.
Writing a Great LTE: Top Tips
- Keep it short. Stay within the publication’s rules—likely no longer than 250 words. This may seem very short, but shorter letters are the most effective. Get to the point. This is one of the strengths of LTEs – they’re easy to digest and read, and therefore can reach a larger audience.
- Tell your story. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. Start your letter with your personal story – what climate action means to you – to draw readers in. Your personal experience and why you care about the issue is the most compelling argument. Ultimately, people can argue with your positions, but they can’t argue with your perspective – and this is how you can connect with and empathize with those with opposing views. Describe why this issue matters to you or someone in your life. Make it personal and make the issue human – this is how we can inspire others to action.
- DON’T delve into policy. There is not enough room in 250 words to make a nuanced policy argument. When using facts and numbers, use only one or two, and choose the most powerful ones that support your personal story.
- Use powerful language. Let your feelings show! Use powerful verbs and descriptive nouns. Write short, punchy sentences. Vary sentence length. This will help your letter stand out and make it more likely to be published.
- Make a call to action. After getting readers interested in the issue, use this opportunity to ask them to take action.
- Sign your letter: Be sure to write your full name (and title, if relevant) and to include your address, phone number, and e-mail address. Newspapers won’t print anonymous letters, though in some cases they may withhold your name on request. They will only use your phone number if they decide to call you to confirm that you wrote the letter before they publish it.
- Check your letter and make sure it’s clear and to the point — also check for proper grammar and spelling. Ask someone else to read over your letter.
I am writing today to express my support for responsibly advancing offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine.
[Share a personal experience about the environment/clean energy in Maine, and/or why offshore wind matters to you. Everyone has a story – we all live in this beautiful state in all four seasons – what motivates you to fight for its future?]
[Add some data to support your point if there’s room. Don’t try to include every fact!]
Developing a Maine-made offshore wind industry is the right move to fight climate change with strong standards for labor, fisheries, and the environment.
Your full name
Your contact information