Writing a Letter to the Editor

6.5.15 | Education

The Portsmouth Herald remains one of the primary sources of information on all things local, including local government, politics, and policy. The editorial page – specifically, the Letters to the Editor (LTE) section – remains an excellent way to communicate your support for ideas, candidates, and leaders. Writing an effective LTE doesn’t have to be time-consuming or intimidating, especially if you consider a few pieces of advice:

  • Keep it short. The best LTEs are often the shortest, because it maximizes the chance that your letter will actually get read. An LTE should never exceed 250 words, and is ideally no longer than 150 words.
  • Make One Point. When LTEs go long, it is often because the author attempts to make multiple points in the same LTE. Space doesn’t allow it, and readers will be looking to quickly understand what your point is. Make that task easier for readers by focusing on a single point.
  • Edit yourself. After writing an initial draft, edit yourself thoroughly. Avoid using the word “that” (as in “The reason that the tax rate changed…”) or terms like “I think,” or “in my opinion.” Every word matters!
  • Avoid getting personal. At One Portsmouth, the focus is on highlighting positive ideas, actions, candidates, and leadership in our community. While making contrasts between better and worse is sometimes necessary, public comments whose point is to insult others is unflattering to both the insulted and the insulter.
  • How to send a letter to the Herald. The easiest way to send your letter is via email, at opinion@seacoastonline.com. In the subject line, something to the effect of “LTE on [whatever your topic is]” is best. Remember that relatively few people will ever write an LTE, but those that do tend to write them repeatedly. Your LTE makes greater impact than you think!