letters to the editor

MargotFriedman-HeadShotMargot Friedman, principal of Dupont Circle Communications, conducts trainings on writing and placing opinion editorials. Please like Op Ed Talk with Margot on Facebook to share free tips and strategies.

Don’t say your opponent’s name. Don’t make the other side’s case for them.

That’s the conventional wisdom about addressing the opposition’s arguments in many advocacy contexts. In opinion editorial writing, however, the conventional wisdom may not apply.

To make your op ed more persuasive and thoughtful, consider including a rebuttal paragraph that refutes your opponent’s main argument. Rebuttal paragraphs that raise and dismiss the other side’s argument are often located after the last paragraph of the body and before the conclusion, but they can appear anywhere.

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MargotFriedman-HeadShotMargot Friedman, principal of Dupont Circle Communications, conducts trainings on writing and placing opinion editorials. Please like Op Ed Talk with Margot on Facebook to share free tips and strategies.

There is no formula for writing an op ed. You could write stream of consciousness and it could be terrific. But for folks who like structure, two basic formats make op ed writing quicker and easier.

You may recognize the first format, the five paragraph essay, from high school:

  • Introduction ending with your main point. In an op ed, the introduction is called the lead.
  • Three supporting paragraphs backed up by evidence (e.g., statistics, personal stories, studies by experts, lessons of history, comparisons with other countries).
  • Conclusion. In an op ed, the conclusion shouldn’t just be a summary of your arguments; it should urge a proposed solution or make a call to action. Now that you’ve educated your readers about an issue, tell them what should happen next and how they can make it happen.

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Guest bloggerMargot Friedman, principal of Dupont Circle Communications, conducts trainings on writing and placing opinion editorials. Please like Op Ed Talk with Margot on Facebook to share op-ed tips and strategies.

Remember those posters in your high school hallway that said, “SEX! Now that I have your attention, vote for so and so for class president?” The signs were sophomoric, but they were onto something.
Before I can persuade you, I have to get your attention. That’s why the lead or opening paragraph of your next opinion editorial is so important.

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