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Guidelines and Tips on How to Write an Op-Ed

What is an Op-Ed?

An op-ed (opinion-editorial) is an opinion article written for a newspaper by a third-party contributor. Op-eds provide an excellent way to promote your congregation and influence readers.

Before You Begin Writing

Track the news and identify strategic opportunities to share your perspective. Op-eds are more likely to be published if they are connected to a timely news story of local or national importance.

Once you have found a topic about which a representative of your congregation would like to write, choose a media outlet to target. Review the op-eds that the outlet has already published before you begin writing; your op-ed should be of the same quality and general style as others published in this outlet.

Confirm the outlet’s submission guidelines, including word count, signer contact information, and submission method. If you cannot find this information online, call the outlet directly.

Develop a clear, one-sentence thesis statement to be included in the first quarter of your op-ed. The thesis statement of an op-ed should precede the supporting arguments.

Submitting an Op-Ed

Be sure to review submission guidelines again once you have developed a final draft. Because there is an expectation of exclusivity, only submit your op-ed to one newspaper at a time. If you have not heard back five days after submission, then you can proceed to submit your op-ed to another outlet.

When submitting your op-ed, be sure to follow the outlet’s guidelines exactly. Include the requested contact information and a sentence or two at the conclusion of your draft identifying your name, title, and relevant experience. Never attach an op-ed submission to an email; always include the text in the body of your message.


  • Look beyond daily newspapers in selecting your target publication. Many weekly and specialty publications also accept op-eds and are less competitive targets for placement.
  • Make one point, and make it well.
  • Be timely. Once you have identified an op-ed topic connected to a current news story, prepare and submit the final draft as soon as possible.
  • Don’t get discouraged. You will likely submit several op-eds before one is chosen for publication.

These guidelines were adapted from those developed for the Unitarian Universalist Association's Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) campaign; for additional SSL media materials, please visit SSL's Media 101 resources.

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This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 29, 2011.

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