14 Amazing Op-Ed Writing Tips

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Writing a good op-ed or opinion essay that gets noticed by an editor can be challenging. Offen editors get bombarded with hundreds of op-ed submissions a week. Here you’ll learn what editors are looking for in an opinion essay and how to approach editors professionally and courteously.

Editors of major publications are looking for a surprising idea or a surprising writer to offer a perspective on current affairs or influential topics of discussion.

An opinion column in a newspaper is a piece of writing that presents the author’s personal point of view on a particular issue or topic. Opinion columns are typically published in the opinion or editorial section of a newspaper. They are distinct from news articles, which are meant to present factual information and report on events. Opinion columns are often written by regular contributors, such as columnists or editorial writers, and may include personal anecdotes and persuasive language to argue the author’s perspective.

Opinion columns can cover a wide range of topics, including politics, social issues, culture, and current events. They are a way for the newspaper to present different perspectives on important issues and can provide readers with a diverse range of opinions and viewpoints. Opinion columns can also be a platform for the newspaper to express its own editorial stance on an issue.

While opinion columns are a valuable part of a newspaper, it is vital for readers to be aware of the potential biases of the author and the newspaper. Opinion columns are not objective reporting, and the information presented should be evaluated critically and taken with a grain of salt.

The Op-Ed or opinion pages of major national newspapers like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Epoch Times are where you’ll find thoughts from some of the most influential minds of our time.

Here are a few Op-Ed writing tips to help you stand out of the crowd and get published.

  1. Find a different angle. Read and follow the opinion section where you plan to submit and make sure what you’re offering hasn’t been said already.
  2. Get to the main idea quickly. Start fast with active language to hook the reader. State your opinion clearly and succinctly in the beginning so your reader knows what to expect.
  3. Offer a solution. Make you op-ed more interesting by proposing how to solve a problem
  4. Focus. One op-ed, one idea.
  5. Get the order right. Follow a simple structure; intro, body, conclusion
  6. Avoid cliches and jargon.
  7. Avoid the obvious.
  8. Avoid generalities – Be Specific!
  9. Don’t self-promote. Your expertise will be obvious from your bio.
  10. Support your argument with facts and data: Use credible and verifiable statistics. Include links to original sources to help the reader and editor verify.
  11. Keep it short. Usually 600-800 words.
  12. Review Tips for Readable Writing. Take the time to edit and revise your op-ed to ensure it is well-written and effective.
  13. Plan out your piece.
  14. Make a call to action: End your op-ed with a clear call to action, inviting the reader to take some form of action in response to your argument.

How to Write and Op-Ed Essay that Will Get Noticed

Remember editors get a lot of submissions and don’t have time to read everything sent to them. If you’ve sent in a good piece and haven’t heard back a gentle friendly follow-up might be appreciated, but in most cases, aggressive follow-up will not. Do your research and follow the publication guidelines for submitting an op-ed.

Here’s a good template to use as an introduction. Notice how it is short, specific, and time-bound.

Email 1: If I don’t hear back from you by (specify deadline at least 24-48h) I’ll assume you’re not interested and will move on and shop it around. 

Email 2, Follow up: If you’re interested please let me know, if not I’m moving on. 

Op ed

Technical Details to Consider When Submitting an Op-ed

For security most major publications do not open attachments, so don’t send your op-ed essay attached as an MS Word file. Instead, copy the article into the body of an email. This allows the editor to quickly scan the essay without the lag of loading a word processing software. It also makes the editor feel safer by avoiding opening attachments that could contain a virus or malicious cyber attack.

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