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Writing a Letter to the Editor: A Tutorial from The Daily Iowan

Letters to the editor are a vital part of any newspaper. They offer readers the opportunity to share their perspectives, engage in public debate, and hold those in power accountable. As a resource for freedom of speech and press, the letter to the editor has long been a part of public discourse, giving individuals a platform to express their opinions on a variety of issues.

Here at The Daily Iowan, we encourage our readers to share their thoughts and opinions through letters to the editor. In this tutorial, we will guide you through the process of writing an effective letter to the editor, sharing tips and insights to help you craft a compelling and impactful piece.

Understanding the Purpose of a Letter to the Editor

Before you begin writing your letter to the editor, it's important to understand its purpose. Letters to the editor serve as a forum for readers to express their views on current events, local issues, or topics covered in the publication. They provide an opportunity for the public to engage in dialogue, challenge perspectives, and contribute to the diversity of voices in the community.

Furthermore, letters to the editor can bring attention to issues that may not have received sufficient coverage or provide a counterpoint to the opinions expressed in the publication. They are a way for readers to hold the newspaper accountable and ensure that a variety of viewpoints is presented.

Choosing a Topic

When selecting a topic for your letter to the editor, consider current events, local issues, or articles that have appeared in The Daily Iowan. You may also choose to respond to a recent op-ed, editorial, or news article, offering a differing perspective or additional insights.

It's important to select a topic that is timely and relevant to the readers of The Daily Iowan. Your letter should contribute to the ongoing conversation and provide a unique viewpoint or new information.

Crafting Your Letter

1. Start with a Strong Opening

Begin your letter with a powerful opening sentence that captures the reader's attention. This could be a striking statement, a compelling fact, or a personal anecdote related to the topic. Your goal is to draw the reader in and make them eager to continue reading.

2. Clearly State Your Point

After the opening, articulate your main point or argument clearly and concisely. Your letter should be focused and to the point, addressing a specific issue or providing a unique perspective. Avoid being overly broad or vague in your statements.

3. Provide Evidence or Examples

Back up your main point with evidence, examples, or personal experiences. This will strengthen your argument and make your letter more convincing. Providing specific details or real-life examples can help readers relate to your perspective and understand the significance of your argument.

4. Consider the Counterargument

Acknowledge and address potential counterarguments to your point of view. This shows that you have considered alternative perspectives and adds depth to your letter. It also demonstrates your openness to dialogue and debate.

5. End with a Strong Conclusion

Wrap up your letter with a strong conclusion that reinforces your main point and leaves a lasting impression on the reader. You may also provide a call to action or suggest potential solutions to the issue you have addressed.

Tips for Writing an Effective Letter to the Editor

1. Keep It Concise

Letters to the editor should be relatively short and to the point. Aim for a length of around 250-300 words, as most publications have a limit on the length of letters they will publish. Make every word count and avoid unnecessary repetition or tangents.

2. Be Respectful and Civil

While it's important to share your opinions, it's equally important to do so in a respectful and civil manner. Avoid using inflammatory language or personal attacks, and focus on presenting your argument in a professional and respectful tone.

3. Be Timely

If you are responding to a specific article or event, try to submit your letter in a timely manner. This will increase the likelihood of it being published and ensure that it remains relevant to current discussions.

4. Use Your Voice

Be authentic and use your own voice when writing your letter. Personal anecdotes or experiences can add a compelling and human touch to your argument. Avoid using jargon or overly academic language, and instead, communicate in a clear and accessible manner.

Formatting and Submission Guidelines

When submitting a letter to the editor to The Daily Iowan, it's important to follow our formatting and submission guidelines to increase the likelihood of your letter being published.

1. Subject Line

Include "Letter to the Editor" in the subject line of your email to clearly indicate the nature of your submission.

2. Introductory Paragraph

Begin your letter with a brief introductory paragraph that provides context for the topic you are addressing.

3. Contact Information

Include your full name, address, and daytime phone number at the end of your letter. This information will not be published, but it is necessary for verification purposes.

4. Length

Keep your letter to no more than 300 words. Longer letters are less likely to be published due to space constraints.

5. Submission Method

Submit your letter as a text document or in the body of an email to the designated letters to the editor email address at The Daily Iowan. Avoid sending letters in PDF format.

6. Original Work

Your letter should be your original work and should not have been submitted or published elsewhere.

7. Due Date

Check the submission due date for letters to the editor, as The Daily Iowan may have specific deadlines for consideration.


Writing a letter to the editor is a powerful way to engage with the community, share your opinions, and contribute to public discourse. By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this tutorial, you can effectively craft a compelling and impactful letter to the editor for submission to The Daily Iowan. Whether you are responding to a specific article, addressing a local issue, or sharing your perspective on a current event, your letter has the potential to spark meaningful conversations and contribute to the diversity of viewpoints in our publication. We look forward to receiving your submissions and sharing your voices with our readers.

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